Many Libyan Internet activists have declared their support for the pro-democracy movements and revolutions in the Middle East. After seeing the power of the people succeed in Tunisia and Egypt, they created groups on Facebook to call for political and economic reforms in Libya. Libya's dictator, Muammar Gaddafi, has responded by warning against the use of Facebook, according to IFEX
Gaddafi has controlled Libya for more than 40 years, since 1969. Tunisian dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali was in power from 1987 until January 14, 2011, when he was forced to step down and flee the country. Egyptian dictator Muhammad Hosni Sayyid Mubarak was in power from 1981 until February 11, 2011, when he resigned after 18 days of protests. Facebook has been credited as helping rally protesters organize in both countries.
Libyan security forces have already arrested several Internet activists and Gaddafi has hired agents to attack activists who call for political reform and an end to corruption in the country. They even arrested Libyan activist Jamal Al-Hajji on a fabricated charge concerning a car accident, which is very similar to stories of what government forces did under orders from the Tunisian and Egyptian dictators.
As with Tunisia and Egypt, Libyan protester videos are also appearing on YouTube. One such amateur video appears to show demonstrators injured by what seems to be rapid gunfire. Witnesses said hundreds clashed with police and government supporters in the eastern city of Benghazi; the injury count currently stands at 40. Pro-government rallies were also reportedly held across the country today.
"We're demanding, first of all, that this regime falls, and a coalition government is formed," Hadi Shalluf, opposition leader in exile and a judge at the International Criminal Court, told Euronews
. "We made this demand to the government a week ago. We want a constitutional committee to adopt a new constitution for the country, legislative and presidential elections. We want to try all of those who’ve committed crimes, to try all of those accused of corruption. We know, especially, that there is no trace of 1.5 trillion dollars of national revenue created since 1969. We want this money to go into the state's coffers."