Libya: A rebel anthem […] and the limits of democracy

The following was an article from THIS is AFRICA

Libya - anti-government forces, Benghazi

Every revolution needs its own anthem, and while this one may not be about to storm the charts any time soon it’s still heartening to know the beleaguered pro-democracy anti-Gaddafi guys in Benghazi found some time to put this out there in what must have been unimaginably difficult circumstances (translated lyrics at the end of this post).

Meanwhile, as the Western coalition continues its airstrikes and Gaddafi’s forces continue their attacks on the pro-democracy rebels (see map) – The Guardian UK has a live blog running on events in Libya –

we urge our Dutch visitors to check out Our Beloved Dictators, a documentary about why Western governments have supported dictators in North Africa and the Middle East for decades and, despite mouthing platitudes about freedom and democracy, were not immediate supporters of the wave of pro-democracy protests sweeping the region.

It comes down to money, for the most part, and that won’t surprise you. But it also has to do with something more worrying: successive European governments have held the condescending view that islamic countries simply cannot do democracy, not like Europeans can, and that if they tried they’d descend into chaos and civil war and most probably end up with fundamentalist islamic rule. That normal people in islamic countries might be as serious about democratic values as Europeans was simply inconceivable. So better to support dictators and keep doing good business.


The Gaddafi’s government, and the governments of other oil-rich countries in North Africa and the Middle East, own significant stakes in very valuable companies across Europe and America, and have been very generous to some of their most prestigious universities.

Libya alone has about $30 billion in the US invested in private equity firms and investment banks like Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase.

It also has a 7.6 percent stake in Italy’s largest bank, UniCredit (5% via its Central Bank and 2.6% via the Libyan Investment Authority). A financial group belonging to the Gaddafi family is the second largest stakeholder in football club Juventus with a 7.5 per cent stake. (More on Libyan investments HERE)

But these are small potatoes when compared with oil-production sharing agreements companies like BP and Shell have with Libya.

All these and more are interests the UK, Italian, French, Dutch and US governments were not about to jeopardise for something as trifling as democracy.

We hope this documentary is picked up and sub-titled by public TV companies in other parts of the world because this is exactly the sort of information people democracies need to know what has been going on in their name. But also because it is in everyone’s interest to understand that the strikes against Gaddafi now are not motivated by ethical or moral reasons but driven by opportunism, and by the realisation that if they didn’t do something now they would lose the right to utter another word about freedom and democracy.

Full translation of the anthem

This is Benghazi fighters speaking
we stand in battalions
from all across Libya

all those who don’t want to live in the dark
hate suppression
want to live freely and sacrifice their lives and souls for that
these are your grandsons, Omar Muhtar

no human rights
no fear for America
mercenaries hunting people down
we are unarmed; they are armed to the teeth

Where’s the glory? Where’s the revolution? National pride?
Where’s the stolen fortune?
Didn’t you say I’m a hero, I’m a Mujahedeen?
Go outside, let’s fight

Take your weapon, our defender
don’t be like mice that hide in their holes
we are waiting for you
to free us from the worst traitor in our history

hero and friends
grandkids of Omar Mukhtar
fight for Benghazi and Libya
take out your swords and free Libya

fallen in battalions
February 17, 2011
Benghazi, Libya

Thousands that fell on the streets
the Lord will meet you
all those who died from weapons and bombs
that didn’t spare even the kids.

Fear. Mercenaries against boys
boys against the regime
Regime of dictatorship and destruction
You only have mercenaries to defend you

This is the voice of Libya, the voice of Benghazi
that the dictator cannot muffle
mercenaries on borderlines
Dictators Muammar
Blood-covered hands, destruction everywhere
but the day will come when freedom comes to our homes.

you will see free boys and a free Libya
you and your accomplices will be running like mice
the blood of thousands who died calls
we will never forget their deeds and souls

the blood of the fallen calls for victory
It didn’t go in vain.

criminal, criminal, criminal
tyrant, tyrant

Forty years
Forty years of lies and deceit
«Free revolution
free nation»

Boiling is the blood of those who died innocently
for the freedom of Libya
may they burn in hell
those who killed thousands of your children, Libya

thousands of Muslims died for you Libya
innocent child Benghazi died for you Libya

the free people of Libya will have a worthy life
we swear
we the grandkids of Omar Mukhtar
Them your children, Libya

to those who died for justice and equality
In Benghazi
to those who died for freedom
18-44, 18-44, no older……

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