Jihan Hafiz reports on mass rally in Benghazi, Libya
JIHAN HAFIZ, REPORTER: Friday prayers came at the end of a bloody week. The rebels who were killed and injured during the heavy fighting against Gaddafi forces in both the west and the east received special honors here. It brought the women and the men to tears.
UNIDENTIFIED (SUBTITLED TRANSLATION): We are hurt by what is happening. He doesn’t differentiate between the young, the old, or Muslims. You saw what happened in Zawiyah.
UNIDENTIFIED (SUBTITLED TRANSLATION): Almost every family and household in Benghazi has martyrs, and that’s why everyone is crying. There are martyrs in the street, and you can see people dying in Zawiyah every day.
HAFIZ: Gaddafi’s counteroffensive and the resulting bloodshed has raised questions of the possibility of a foreign invasion. During the Friday sermon, the prospect of foreign troops on Libyan soil was firmly rejected for the third Friday in a row.
CROWD (SUBTITLED TRANSLATION): There is only one God, and Muammar enemy of God. Free Libya, Muammar get out!
HAFIZ: But air bombardment has pounded rebel positions and prevented them from advancing closer to Tripoli. And with reports indicating scores of people have been killed in Zawiyah, the demands for the international community to impose a no-fly zone have intensified.
UNIDENTIFIED (SUBTITLED TRANSLATION): This is a human rights violation! Libyans are dying every day. Under what conditions will they act?
UNIDENTIFIED (SUBTITLED TRANSLATION): Where are the Arabs? Why are they silent? Gaddafi is killing our children and our men. He’s going to finish us off! Our men and children are gone because he’s killed them! Where are the Arabs? Where’s Europe? Where are the Arabs? Stop the silence!
CROWD: No-fly zone! No-fly zone!
HAFIZ: The popular demand for a no-fly zone has also been echoed by doctors and medical personnel. They too have been under attack by Gaddafi’s deadly air assaults.
UNIDENTIFIED: Even to help our victim, our patient, we cannot send the ambulance. The ambulance unsafe now, unsafe with the aircraft, unsafe. Still now the ambulance–.
UNIDENTIFIED: [inaudible] yesterday the ambulance car was shot.
UNIDENTIFIED: They are targeting everything–ambulances, the clinics, everything, even our mosques.
UNIDENTIFIED: Even a mosque yesterday in [inaudible]
HAFIZ: The demonstrators thanked France, which on Thursday became the first country to recognize the national Libyan council as Libya’s official government. Some expressed concern about the rebels’ recent setbacks in Ra’s Lanuf, but most seemed confident they would prevail. While tens of thousands took to the streets of Benghazi in a show of force, the battle raged on in Ra’s Lanuf. While government-controlled Libyan television reported a victory for Gaddafi, the rebels insisted they remain in control of the oil town. This is Jihan Hafiz for The Real News in Benghazi, Libya.
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