”Diary from the Revolution”

Dialogmanus – engelsk, uten tidskode.

When the rebellion against Gaddafi started, I left my home in Norway to get to Misrata, the military frontier of the Libyan

Revolution.

I wanted to join a local militia group to get to know the people behind the rebellion.

"A man holding this pack of cigarettes is a boss."

"A man holding this pack is a poor guy belonging to the frontline."

"May God help him!"

"We are coming straight home to you Gaddafi!"

"So you can look me in the eyes!"

“Do you have a gun with you Haj Siddiq?”

In Misrata, I met Haj Siddiq, who became a rebel at the age of 52. A father of five, and the head of a local tribe in the city.

“Aren’t you gonna bring one for me?” “No, no, no, no. You are not fighter. Get in.”

Armed with my small camera, I wanted to contribute to the building of a new democracy. And after a year of heavy fighting, we

managed to remove the dictator.

“Fresh air, with no Gaddafi smell! Hahahahaha. Yah, with no Gaddafi smell.”

But will the rebels’ idea of freedom be the same as mine? This is my diary from the Libyan revolution, and the challenge of

shaping the new Libya in the absence of the dictator.

“Fucking hell, it’s been raining for three days straight now.”

When I left Oslo, it was more than ten years since the last time I was in my home country, Libya.

“I don’t know why I’m going there. I don’t know what I’m up for. I just know that I can’t sit here watching that happening

without being part of it.”

“How do you feel?” “Scared.” “Are you scared?” “Uhuh.” “Why?” “Cause you’re going down to war. Civil war.” “Every little

thing... gonna be alright.”

I was reluctant to leave my safe home in Norway, but I was eager to remember, what was it like to be a Libyan again.

I entered Libya from the Egyptian border. My first goal was the city of Benghazi, the rebels’ stronghold in the eastern part of

the country.

"Where are you from?" "Tripoli."

"We are one family." "All of Libya is of one blood!2

"When we get to Tripoli we will not leave it." "We will stand by our brothers there!"

"Tripoli is our capital!" "Whether Gaddafi wants it or not!"

"We are the liberation army and we are too hard for you Gaddafi!"

Having grown up in Tripoli under the Gaddafi regime, I still have many friends and relatives there. I knew most of the people in

Tripoli were against the revolution. They were afraid that the country would descend into chaos and tribal rivalry. But for the

people of Benghazi, there was no way back now.

"Moammar Gaddafi is the leader of the nation. Millions of people will defend me,purifying Libya inch by inch, house by house,

home by home, street by street,person by person, until the country is clean of the dirt and the impurities!

"With a mission to protect civilians, NATO had started airstrike against Gaddafi forces and military installations. Thanks to

last minute NATO intervention, Benghazi had managed to drive back Gaddafi forces. And now, we were finally free to chant against

the dictator.2

"Sorry, Greasyhair!"

"Sorry, Greasyhair!"

“He thinks that we still need him, so we say sorry, we don’t need you!” “Go away!” “Go away!” “Do you hear that? We don’t need

you!” “We don’t need him, and his sons of Islam.” “Libya Libya Libya! Libya Libya Libya!” “Wow.” “Libya Libya Libya! Libya Libya

Libya!”

This was Libya as I have never seen it before.

“I’m speechless.”

On that day, I felt a sudden overwhelming emotion. A new element to my body. Something I had never experienced before.

Nationalism.

My next goal was the city of Misrata, the main frontline of the war. Misrata is located on the other side of the Libyan Gulf and

I needed connections in order to get there. I managed to get in touch with Mohammed N??? who had good connections in the

Military Council, and he was more than happy to help me.

"Nice to meet you, you are most welcome!2

"Go to the district of Tomina…"

I was told to contact the militia leader called Haj Siddiq once I got to Misrata. And I was given a passage on this old boat

used to evacuate refugees from the city.

"Misrata, you know Misrata! The city that pushed your nose in the sand!"

I had never been in a war zone before. I was not sure if I would be able to find a quick way out if Gaddafi troops managed to

invade the city.

Misrata was under siege and surrounded by Gaddafi forces. Continuous bombardment from his artillery had reduced much of the city

to a ruin, forcing the population to convert into unorganized militia groups in a battle for survival.

"What's happened to your house?"

"Tanks and Hawn missiles."

"Tanks?"

"A Hawn missile did this. What more does he want after this? Will he still rule? Satan has lived in paradise, that's what we are

gonna tell him!"

There were almost 200 militia groups in the city, composed out of families and tribal networks. I had been given permission to

visit one of them, the Al-Gabra militia.

“This is one of the military bases, uh, it’s called, uh, Al-Gabra Qutiba, Qutiba Gabra.”

“I never been that close to a.. that big arms. They just fix it quite easy. Normal metal wel- welding, and this is, this is

something use in cars probably, or motorcycles

“Bring your gun and come out.”

The commander of the militia base, Haj Siddiq, was a big man. I knew that I needed to gain his acceptance if I wanted to stay in

the militia.

"Libya's problem is all in one person, or at least in one family: Gaddafi and his sons."

"An armed family?"

"An armed family who will use force at any means. Either we rule you, or we kill you. There is no other choice. We in Misrata

prefer death to being ruled by Gaddafi."

"This was the workshop of my family. One of my sons was the manager. It looks like a mess now, not a workshop anymore. Gaddafi's

brigades stayed here for 1 1/2 months. When they left, they took everything expensive, but not too heavy."

Before the war, Haj Siddiq was a successful entrepreneur in the construction industry. Now he had taken everything that was left

of his equipment, construction vehicles, people and money, and turn it into a home-made militia brigade.

“Let’s get out of here.”

"Thank God the day came when we rose up against him. Me, my children, my neighbors and my friends. We were never fooled by

Gaddafi's lies."

"Hey Haj!" "What's going on?" "Ali Ben Amran's son has fallen as a martyr." "Ali's son or Ali himself?" "Ali's son." "He fell at

the frontline?" "Yes." "Today, at the Dafnia-front?" "Yes." "Was it just him?" "I don't know how many it was." "Only God is left

in the end."

Like almost everything in Libya, the militia was a family operation and Haj Siddiq was the patriarch. This boy operating the big

crane is Mohammed, the youngest of Haj Siddiq’s five sons. Osama is another son. He didn’t wanted to carry a gun, instead he had

become a gun mechanic. And then there were a lot of brothers, nephews, cousins, and former employees from the metal workshop.

"What happens if the safety pin falls out?" "It won't."

"So now it's fire and iron?" "Fire and iron! It's victory or death!"

"Hey down there, we are testing a weapon!"

"Just stay where you are!"

"God is great!"

"God is great!"

The biggest military challenge for Misrata was that the city was within the firing range of Gaddafi’s artillery.

"Where are they firing from?" "Near Taworgha, 40 km from here." "What kind of missile is that?" "Grad missiles, made in Egypt or

China."

"Five minutes ago we heard the bang. Grenade missiles against Misrata."

"We have to run them out and keep them at a distance."

"They hit the Rosan place." "Really?" "Yes, they did."

"Happy to know you are alive, Saeed!" "Thank you, but who is this?" "Stop greeting Saeed for God's sake, you are giving

information to the enemy!"

The next morning, a big explosion could be heard from the neighboring military base.

“A missile just fall down here in the Qutiba. Uh, this is a military base for the rebels in Misrata. No one was killed but all

the (only?) cars was hit.” ...”Shrapnel”...

"I am sure someone has given the coordinates to Gaddafi's soldiers."

The rumors about an informer had let some of the soldiers start questioning my presence. But Haj Siddiq made a passionate

defense for the importance of the camera in the time of war.

"The camera is the reason for the NATO intervention. Thanks to God in the first place, and then to the camera."

“It IS a camera.”

“I, I would like to be one of the guys ???.” “You are- you- you are welcome.” “I, I” “Make yourself at home.”

At the time, I was unsure for how long Haj Siddiq’s enthusiasm for my camera would last. But I felt that I started to gain the

trust of the soldiers now that my role as the militia’s cameraman was official.

"You should film the guys. They are the important ones! Especially Greasyhair over there!"

"We had to trim our beards for the media. I made a bad job of it. Now I regret it!"

"This is our photographer who has come all the way from Canada to film us! We thank him…"

"No, he's from Norway."

"Yes, from Norway! We thank him for showing what is happening in Libya. We have no choice but to confront the tyrant with

Kalashnikovs and FM-rifles, while he is sending us Hawn and Grad missiles."

Blade was the frontline commander of the militia. I found out that we share the same taste in music and we were born in the same

year.

"How old are you?" "I am 31." "Born in 1980?" "I was born in 1980 too!" "Which month?" "August." "He came to power twelve years

before you were born, right?" "The elders are scared of him. Just say 'Gaddafi', and everyone is terrified. He controlled

everyone in the country. If you spoke against him, they came for you. That was his regime. But in the last years we are not

scared anymore. He only scared the previous generation."

As Blade was taking me on my first trip to the frontline, I start wondering - if I had never left Libya ten years ago, which

side of the frontline I would be on today?

“Apparently this is the frontline here, of uh... Gaddafi ???.”

...“We never get out of here.”...”He is gonna get out.”...

"Yosef Lashlem." "How are you Yosef?"

"Abderahman Breka."

"Ramadan Shabab."

"Welcome to Libya."

"And Al Rahman Al Shawesh."

"And Mohammed Breka, who is my second in command."

"We pray for protection. There's only 1km between us and Gaddafi's dogs."

"God is great!"

"The military council has sent 100 dinars to everyone."

"No, no! We don't need any money. The militia covers all our needs, even cigarettes."

"We told Haj Siddiq we agreed that money should only go to the married guys."

Mohammed Breka was arguing that they didn’t need the extra money that was being offered, but I was not sure if Ramadan and the

other soldiers agree.

I wanted to see the enemy forces. Youssef knew about a good spot.

"Keep your head down!"

"I want you to take a close-up shot of those trees. There's something blinking there, can you see it? They've got their foxhole

there, the artillery is hidden behind it.They're aiming for… They're shooting at us, but they can't reach us."

I couldn’t see the enemy, but I could feel their presence.

"It's a cat and mouse game every day? You advance, then back off?" "Some days the shooting will be so intense, we won't be able

to reply."

"How old are you, Yossef?"

"I'm 21."

"How is Norway?"

"It's cold."

"Land of Lions"?

"Yes, "Land of Lions."

Our militia was lacking heavy weapons and running out of ammunition.

“How are you? How are you? Welcome!”

"We ask Obama to supply us with weapons to finish off Gaddafi." "This is the criminal sheik." “Crime?”...”Oh, oh, yes,

yes.”...”Uh, I”..”Yes, yes...”...

The sheik Mufta had represented the military council. He came with an order to our militia to take part in the big advance to

get Misrata out of Gaddafi’s missile range.

"How do you suggest I advance without any ammunition? Be logical." "If everyone thought like that, nothing would ever be

accomplished." "Remember I've got 20 machine guns."

"You rats! We are gonna get you! We know you only have 1 bullet left!" "Why don't you come over, we will show you how many

bullets we have!" "You are just counting on NATO to save you!" "We are counting on God!"

I was impressed by the courage of the soldiers fighting for better Libya. But Mohammed would still move to Europe if he had the

choice.

"Why Europe, Mohammed?" "There is order there. Jobs, rules, everything. A life without law and order is difficult. It's like

living in the jungle. You wouldn't be able to live in Libya. Not before the revolution, not now. When you are used to life in

Norway, you couldn't live here. Maximum 2 months, and you would go back."

It was the day of the big advance. Ammunition had been carefully divided between the different militia groups in Misrata.

"Why are you so angry?" "I have to do everything around here! If I don't do it, it doesn't get done! Shut up! Don't talk to me!"

I had a feeling that Mohammed was mostly angry because he was not allowed to go to the frontline.

"He hits hard! You gave me a really good punch right here in my face."

"If you go to the frontline with Blade you have to film him all the time!"

"Latest news from the front today at 05.45: they're giving us a powerful breakfast. With both Hawn and Grad missiles. That dog

used Grad missiles too! But yesterday NATO attacked two missile launch ramps. God is great!"

I wasn’t allowed to go with Blade that morning either, but he gave me this videoclip shot with a mobile phone camera to show me

a gunfight on the battlefield.

Later that day, a steady stream of ambulances start coming in from the frontline and Blade was among the injured.

"Oh, God have mercy on us!"

"Blade is in here!"

"Slowly!"

"What's your name, soldier?" "Just read the tag."

"They are in good hands, there's nothing more we can do here. There's nothing more we can do here! At the frontline they

are running out of ammunition. We have to load up more and bring it to them!"

"Let's move, let's move!"

"Is the battle still going on?" "Yes, it is." "We need to position Mohammed Breka as the new frontline commander."

When we arrived to the supply line, there was bad news about Mohammed Breka, Blade’s second-in-command.

"What's the news?" "We advanced, and Mohammed Breka was killed!" "What? Mohammed Breka killed?" "It's true, I saw him die." "Who

is left there now? Do they have any ammunition left? We have to get it to them!" "Ok, let's go!"

"Here comes Ramadan!" "Are all of you here? This cannot happen! What's happening?" "The guys need food and water!" "Your friend

became a martyr."

"Pray, Ramadan! Pray! Pray, Ramadan! Pray!"

"You should be ashamed of yourself! He has become a martyr! Are we still advancing? Where are the guys?" "They are at the new

location. But we need food and water. We tried to advance, but they were shooting at us with heavy artillery."

"God have mercy! Give them food, water and ammunition! Don't run away on this sacred day! Don't you die as an infidel! Encourage

your friends instead! We win or we die! And if we die, we die like martyrs!"

"God, relieve us from those who corrupted our land. God, make our fighters strong at the frontline. God, count our dead as

martyrs in heaven."

I wanted to see what was going on on the frontline, and I went along with a car delivering food and ammunition.

"Where have you been? You should have been here earlier!"

The new frontline commander tried to paint a positive picture of the day’s events.

"We destroyed them today! The soldiers we captured today renounced Gaddafi! They didn't want to fight for him!"

But we had only been there for a few minutes before we were forced to leave because of incoming artillery shells.

"Do you have an extra seat in the car?" "No, Abed Alrahmman coming with me."

"Let's get out of there, Salem."

As we were trying to find a safe location, the adrenaline was slowing my mind. All I could think about, it was the food that was

getting dusty on the back of the truck.

"Here guys, have some food."

Ramadan told me that the new frontline commander had been exaggerating their success. They didn’t capture any prisoners that

day.

"What's going on?" " We need to refill old ammo tracks."

We were looking for empty ammunition shells in enemy territory. The ground was littered with landmines and the soldiers had

forgotten to bring their weapons. I realized there was a major difference between them and me. They were prepared to die, and I

wasn’t.

“I’ve fucking lost my head. I have like, million thoughts between my home in Norway, and whatever I’m fucking doing here. Um...

yeah.”

"Look at the long line for fuel!" "How are we going to make it without fuel? And without ammunition?" "We have fuel! And we have

ammunition!"

The big advance that I had taken part in had cost many lives, but now I found out that the objective of the advance had been

achieved. Gaddafi’s forces had been pushed back far enough to get Misrata’s harbor out of the missile range, finally allowing

new shipment of weapons, fuel and ammunition to arrive from the Gulf estate and Bengazi.

"What's that?" "A missile, I think!"

Misrata’s militia groups now had what they needed to prepare an attack on Surt, Gaddafi’s home town.

While we were getting closer to our military goal, nobody seemed to be talking about Libya after Gaddafi.

"The freedom we fight for in Libya, what are its boundaries?" "You have the right to do anything, as long as you don't step on

anyone else's rights." "Do you think the number of male world leaders relates to the number of wars going on?" "That's correct.

Men have a more violent nature than women." "Maybe it would be a good idea to elect a female president in Libya?" "No, that

wouldn't be right. You would prefer a man. A smart, just man who will serve the country. Why choose a woman, who is weak?"

Haj Siddiq did not like the way the discussion was turning, but I was happy because I managed to provoke him.

Blade was out of the hospital and wanted to visit the men on the frontline.

"What do you want to do after the war, Blade?" "I want to get back to my old job in construction. Maybe find a job with

an international company. To work in Libya from outside the country."

"What about you, Osama?" "I want to study outside of Libya." "Study what?" "Anything! I am an electrical engineer, but I can't

find a job."

"Look, there's my old spot!"

"Is the off-road driving causing you pain, Blade?"

"Blade is like a camel, he can take the pain. And faithful, like a dog. And when it comes to fighting, he is like a goat. He

never turns back!"

With Gaddafi troops far away, being on the frontline seemed more like a picnic.

"Do you know a good connection to fix me a trip to Tunis?" "Give me your paperwork and I will give it a try." "With Basensa?

Basensa is the right connection, without him, no one can do a thing." "So we still we need connections to get things done?" "Oh

yes, it's still the same."

Because of the corruption, Blade was having trouble getting the medical treatment he needed. If he couldn’t find a way, he

risked becoming permanently disable.

"I want to get married! I want to get married! Do you know of a beautiful wife for me?" "You nearly lost your penis!" "Then we

would have lost everything! Then I would have walked on crutches to Gaddafi, loaded with TNT!" "No freedom and no penis!"

"Losing both would be an outrage!"

In October, all the militia groups in Misrata joined forces in a big offensive against Surt, Gaddafi’s home town. These pictures

was shot by Al-Gabra militia. The militia used one of Haj Siddiq’s cranes to put pick-up trucks on the top of high-rise

buildings so they could bombard the city.

The siege went on for several weeks of ferocious fighting, with heavy losses on both sides. Then on the 20th of October, Muammar

al-Gaddafi was captured as he was fleeing Surt. Together with the rest of the world, we watched him being beaten to death by

furious rebels from another militia group. Even though I understood the rage, it was not the most promising start for the new

Libya. But all over the country people were celebrating the end of the war.

“Yah, congratulations.” “Thanks. Do you feel free?” “Yes, of course.” “How does it feel?” “I feel happy. I feel glad.”

“Do you remember this place?” “Yeah.”

“By the way, in this film, I really want to appreciate all Europeans who, uh, help us to kill this criminal and to stop this

crime. To thank all the NATOs countries and, uh, really without their help we couldn’t kill...” “Remove.” “Yeah, remove, I meant

kill him. At the end, we did.” “Let’s...” “We killed him.” “Let’s do that one more time.” “And we have made end of this story.

Yeah, we have made good end to that story.” “Happy ending.” “Happy end. Hahaha. Yah, yah.” “Right.”

Haj Siddiq thought this was the right place and time to end the film, but in the absence of the dictator I was wondering what

the new Libya would be like.

“Fresh air, with no Gaddafi smell! Hahahahaha. Yah, with no Gaddafi smell.”

“You have, you have a good point to fight for this land. You have definitely good, good reason to fight for it. It’s beautiful.

It’s...” “And that’s why we are dying for it.” “But I, I wonder why I don’t have this, uh, emotion toward the land. I’m trying,

I’m trying to, you know, dig, dig after it.” “You are not Libyan!” “Well I am Libyan Haj Siddiq.” “No, you are not.” “Wh-what

what am I?” “You are ah, Scandinavian.” “No, I’m n- hahaha.” “You are Scandinavian.” “I am.” “You are from Norway.” “Well, uh,

yeah uh, yeah. I think- I think I have some part of my identity is Norwegian, but.” “You did not fight.” “I did not...” “Because

you don’t have that feel, so why, that’s why you did not, uh, take a gun and fight with us. You did not. You never shoot one

bullet.” “Because I don’t want to kill anyone.” “Eh, you don’t want to kill, yeah. Nobody wants to kill just for kill. No.

Nobody. So-” “Any-” “-If you, if you don’t want to kill, they will kill you, but we have protected you.” “That is correct.” “It

is correct.”

I wanted to believe that the war was over. But Libya was still divided. The country was overflowing with weapons and there was

no guarantee that they would not be used again.

"Ask Haj Siddiq. He ordered us to fix the cars and have them ready. We know the war is over, ask Haj Siddiq why we are fixing

the militia cars."

“I will not give my weapons back unless we get the right person to hand over the, uh, army equipment. After that we will give.

If we get the right man. But this government, they have only few weeks and we don’t trust them. We don’t say that they are bad,

but, uh, we have to give them chance. And, uh, our gun is still smoking. Our guns are still smoking.” “What does that mean?”

“You know what I mean. Haha. Our gun is still smoking. Yeah. Ok.”

I was not sure what Haj Siddiq meant, but I was worried that all 200 militia groups in Misrata were ready to take up arms again

if they were unhappy with the new government.

“You trouble-maker! You’re gonna die soon. Hey, switch it off.” “Yes Sir.” “Before I switch you off!” “Yes Sir!”

So far, the first big reform from the new government had been a law allowing men to marry four wives. Were fanatic men with long

beards already taking over the country?

"Look, it's the sheik! You should film him!"

This man, Sheik Kalihd, seemed to be gaining religious authority over the soldiers in the militia.

"The sheik painted this slogan for the multiple wife law on that gate. But on the outside, so his wife wouldn't see it!"

"We have removed Gaddafi, what now?" "We elect the new president." "We aim for a total Islamic freedom." "Freedom within the

Islamic framework." "We hear young people chanting for freedom. But the freedom they want contradicts Islam. We are all

Muslims." "What about the multiple wife law?" "Ask the Mulla Kalihd about that." "The Sharia law granted us right to take

multiple wives." "He's with a Christian woman. Christians are only allowed to have one wife." "Do you think he will follow our

law or their law?" "He lives in their country, so he has to follow their law. I challenge him to take another wife there!"

The argument behind the law was that war widows could find new providers. But Sheik Kalihd felt that I could still use this law

to resolve my own sinful lifestyle in Norway.

"He shares a flat with two single girls in Norway. To split the rent with them." "That's the Norwegian system?" "It's normal

there." "Can they come and leave any time they want? With their own keys?"

"You have to marry them both."

"How are you?"

With two marriage proposals on my mind, I met Blade, who really was looking for a wife.

Blade had promised to take me to the newly opened war museum in Misrata. It was one of the few places in the city that was open

to both men and women.

"These were brought by Gaddafi. Real destruction!" "This is the hand of Gaddafi." "Where was that taken from?" "From Tripoli.

Bab al azizya."

"Be careful!"

"This is the one they shoot from a 60 mm tube?" "Its a Hawn missile." "That's a Hawn?" "Yes, this is 81mm, the smaller one is 61

mm."

I had expected the experience to be more emotional for Blade, but he was distracted and kept checking his phone.

"Do you have a date?" "Who, me? No, no!" "Tell me the truth." "No, I have no date! But if anyone is interested, I am ready."

"Ready for business?" "Yes, the business is open."

While Misrata was celebrating the victory, the neighboring town of Surt was struggling to step out of the war aftermath. One day

while passing Surt on the main road, the locals had set up a diversion forcing all traffic to go through the city center to make

everybody see the destruction. This was the city that Haj Siddiq’s militia had been bombarding during the siege.

“What are you thinking?” “Huh?” “What are you thinking about when you see this?” "They deserve what happened to them. They

wanted Gaddafi, well now try asking for his help." “Do you feel sorry for them?” “Huh?” “Do you feel sorry?” “No. No, I’m not

feeling sorry.”

I guess by now, most people in Libya would have lost someone during the war. Seeing the ruin of Surt made me think about a

videoclip Blade had given me. It was the last words from two Gaddafi soldiers filmed with a mobile phone. The rebel fighters

found it while clearing a building.

"Shamia, have you seen our situation? All our friends are dead, Shamia. We are all alone. Look at our world here! It's empty.

Look at the mattresses our friends used to sleep on. See how we ended up. Me and you left alone. With our AK47. My name is

Aumran and I am tired and fed up. My mother, if I die here... I want you to take care of yourself. My friends Wael, Rabee, Al

Zentani...everybody. I am asking God to bring me back home. But if I don't make it, I ask your forgiveness."

There was growing fear that the revenge hungry Gaddafi loyal forces were rebuilding their strength. Haj Siddiq called a big

meeting to put an end to the militia members selling weapons they capture from the enemy.

"There are weapons being sold ending up in the wrong hands. This is dangerous for the people in Misrata. There are many people

with unknown loyalty. I don't want to reveal more than this now. Rumours say that the 32 mm anti-aircraft gun is selling for

75.000 dollars! If someone is willing to spend that kind of money now, after the war is over, what do you think that means? The

AK47 sells from between 500 and 1000 dollars." "People have no money. What are they supposed to do? Steal?"

By now the militia had grown from 120 soldiers during the war to almost 400. The military council feared infiltration by Gaddafi

loyalists.

This man had been revealed as a previous Gaddafi soldier after trying to join one of the rebels militia groups. Now he was

accused of torturing a man to death during the war.

“Well, what’s happened yesterday, uh, I was told to turn off the camera if I wanted to visit the interrogation room where the

kept, uhm, ...prisoners. Where they kept... What’s happened yesterday, I was told in the qutiba of Haj Siddiq… What’s happened

yesterday- Haj Siddiq asked me to turn off my camera, to come inside the interrogation room and take a look at one of the

prisoners. He didn’t look so very well. Uh, he was like, physically punished, beaten on his feet really bad. So I’m trying to

tell Haj Siddiq it’s not, uh, your your, your your, or your militia are interrogating people based on their lack of knowledge of

their, of their rights because there isn’t a law around to allow such treatment. Uhm, the thing is Haj Siddiq asked me

specifically not to, uh, interview him about this case. He told me specifically ‘I don’t want to lie and I don’t want to tell

the truth.’”

At the time, I didn’t understand why Haj Siddiq would show me the interrogation room if he wanted to keep it secret. Everyone

that had been working with Gaddafi risked interrogation and torture, and I wanted to believe that he saw that as a problem too.

But somehow the old familiar joke where Haj Siddiq threaten me to turn off my camera, felt different.

“I don’t believe you. Switch it off. Switch it off!” “Sure.” “... or I will switch you off!” “Yes sir.”

Six months after the end of the civil war, the peace still felt fragile. But now Libya was holding its first free selection.

“Finally, election.” “Yeah election. This is the first time election in my life.”

It was the local election in Misrata and Haj Siddiq went there with his father, Mufta.

"Congratulations, it's your first vote." "Yes." "Good luck." "I didn't get my 500 francs?" "How so?" "In the old days we would

get that." "But that's not allowed?" "That's rigging an election." "But now, if anyone offers you money to vote for him, with a

secret ballot, you can vote for who you want anyway!"

The election center for women was separate from the men’s. I asked Haj Siddiq if I could be allowed inside and I was told to not

speak Arabic, otherwise the women may not speak to me.

“Anyone speak English here? Any, any woman can speak... Oh right. How are you doing?”

“Yeah.” “Did, did you vote?” “Yeah!” “Did you vote?” “Yeah, I vote.” “Oh right. That’s good.” “Yeah.” “W-was that y...” “I was

the- the third one. The third person here to vote.” “Oh right?” “I voted for the persons that I want and I feel so happy.”

“That’s- that’s, that’s good. W-was that, was that your first time?” “Yeah, this is the first time.” “But, did you give your

vote to a woman or a man?” “I voted to three men.” “Oh right?” “Yeah. I voted three men, although there was one woman here, but

I don’t know her.” “Would, would you vote for a woman in the future?” “If I know that she is able to be responsible for Misrata

or for Libya as a whole, I would vote to her. Yeah.” “That’s right. Haj Siddiq would you vote for a woman in the future?” “God

knows.” “Very diplomatic.” “Yeah, God knows what will happen in the future. Nobody knows. We will see.” “Yeah, nobody knows.”

“Ok. That was brilliant Haj Siddiq. This woman is the first woman in my, in my movie in Libya-” “Mmhmm.” “-since I started.”

“Mmhmm?” “This is great!” “Is she?” “Not, not she as person, she was very good speaker, but this is the first woman I filmed in

Libya for the last year.” “Mmm.” “So it took me one, one year and-” “To find a-” “-and three days to find, to be, to be able to

speak to a woman in Libya.” “???”

That night, Haj Siddiq throw a party to celebrate the first election.

"Did you vote today, Haj Siddiq?" "Show me your finger!" "How many people died for that?" "Show me yours!"

Haj Siddiq’s brother, Mustafa, was one of the militia members who boycotted the election.

"We have asked the people who know about these things. They say that in Islam, there should be no political parties, no

elections and no democracy!" "Mobaya"! "In Islam we have "Mobaya!" "Mobaya means that I can point Haj Siddiq out as a leader.

But if he appoints himself, that means he is only after power and money." "Give me a way to rule the country in a democratic

way!" "Why don't you remove that word from your head. Democracy is a greek word, it has nothing to do with Islam!"

"OK, Mostafa, do your Mobaya! But we went to the election. And nobody knows who I voted for. These guys told you not to vote.

They will find themselves on the street in the end!"

Listening to that lively discussion that night made me hopeful, but whatever the outcome of the revolution would be, I had the

feeling that Libya would not turn into a western-style democracy over night.

"I am fully convinced that democracy is the right way. It is the best way there is."

In July, Osama was getting married. I was a bit disappointed that he had dropped his dreams of studying abroad for an arranged

marriage. And I was very tempted to try to change his mind.

"Have you seen your bride?" "These are government secrets. No one is allowed to know government secrets." "I know that if a man

wants to get married, he'll go see the bride and get to know her." "That's normal here too. So you know what she looks like?"

"I'm not buying a cat in a bag." "Haj Siddiq told me I am a victim of my "father's decision. Letting me live in Europe. I wonder

if Haj Siddiq wants you to get married now so if you left to study out of Libya…" "So I don't end up like you?" "Yes."

“Welcome.”

"Please don't film this!" "But Osama, this only happens once in a lifetime!" "How do you know that? Sometimes it happens four

times!" "This is beautiful!" "It has a zipper in the back." "A zipper is good. But is it the kind of zipper that locks? Can we

change the top?" "Why aren't the women doing this, Osama?" "There isn't time for that now. I want this twisted pattern. Like on

this design, that's beautiful." "That's beautiful! I agree!"

"Your father is treating you unjust." "Why is that?" "He didn't build you a house. He didn't find you a wife from your own

culture. So you end up living in an environment not suited for you." "And now you want to avoid making the same mistake with

Osama?" "Yes."

I was beginning to understand what it meant to be a patriarch. In the absence of a functioning government it was more important

to tie family and tribal network together. The elders attended the formal ceremony and Haj Siddiq’s father signed the agreement.

"Your brother, in Gods name, Mufta Mufta Al-Fitouri, comes to you. Asking for the hand of your first virgin daughter. Who is

free of visual and hidden faults. To be wedded to his grandson, Osama Siddiq Mufta Al-Fitouri. Based on a dowry of 600 grams of

gold."

Osama was not allowed to be present during the ceremony. He was preparing for the big day by removing his beard. Afterwards the

men from the militia met to dress up and go to the wedding together.

"He looks like a little boy!"

"Try to look less serious!"

"So how are you doing Blade?" "I'm fine." "Are you happy?" "Yes, I'm ok." "Is Libya free?" "Yes, but many bastards are making

trouble. If you are in good health you're fine."

"We just left the place, and we are on our way there now."

"Hey, Blade!"

Blade, the war hero, was disillusioned about the outcome of the war.

"Starting out, we thought: If you die, you die for Libya. But in the end we found out that he who dies, dies for himself. The

winners of this war are the ones who stayed at home. Injured soldiers don't get medical attention. While people in good health

are sent to Europe for medical treatment. What donkey printed this brochure?" "Who are they?" "The Muslim brotherhood." "What do

they want?" "They want power." "They fool people with religion. They know this nation is soft for religion. As a nation, we

follow religion, nothing else." "What do you think of the challenges regarding freedom in Libya?" "It's all a lie. We replaced

Gaddafi with new Gaddafi's, it's the same system. We replaced one Gaddafi with a hundred Gaddafis! A million Gaddafis! Before,

Gaddafi was the one who used to steal. Now everyone is stealing. And whoever wakes up early in the morning can run the country.

Why don't you put that on television?"

Blade’s daring words gave me some hope. Now at least we could criticize the issue of corruption, but I was afraid he was going

to be a lonely voice. Osama’s wedding made me remember what it was like to live in Libya. Within this powerful tribal tradition

there was no room for personal freedom and I found that contradictory to building a true democracy.

Under the firing sky I decided to go back to my home in Norway.

By now I thought Haj Siddiq would be happy to finally to get rid of me, but on the way to the airport he seemed to feel sorry

for me being the outsider.

”Uh, she’s lucky that she has a good husband, uh, as Mohammed.... You are a good guy. You are very kind. You have done a good

job. You are a Libyan anyhow. You have done a good job to show what has happened in Libya. When I say to your wife they were

lucky, that means appreciate you.” “Wow, Haj Siddiq I’m truly humble.” “Well you are welcome any time to come to Libya, and you

stay here as long as you like.” "It's all open, thanks to God. Long live free Libya!" "God is great!"

I was touched with Haj Siddiq’s acceptance, but I was grateful to have the choice to get back to my western lifestyle. It was

clear that Libya was left with so many challenges, but the removal of Gaddafi had opened up a new landscape and now it was up to

our generation to build the new democracy.

 

© 2023 Journeyman Pictures
Journeyman Pictures Ltd. 4-6 High Street, Thames Ditton, Surrey, KT7 0RY, United Kingdom
Email: info@journeyman.tv

This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site you are agreeing to our use of cookies. For more info see our Cookies Policy