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Sun October 23, 2011
Future Uncertain On Libya's Day Of 'Liberation'
AUDIE CORNISH, host: This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Audie Cornish.
It's an historic day in Libya. The country's new leaders are set to declare their country liberated. An interim government will soon be sworn in and Libyans are hoping to have elections in eight months. But the road ahead won't be easy. In Misrata, Moammar Gadhafi's body has been left on display. Libyans who went to see his corpse yesterday had their own thoughts on what lies ahead and what the former dictator's death means to them.
NPR's Lourdes Garcia-Navarro is in Misrata.
LOURDES GARCIA-NAVARRO: Its was a macabre spectacle and Libyans from all around the country flocked to see it. A long line snakes outside a refrigerated food locker in the market area of Misrata, everyone has their cameras at the ready, waiting to immortalize their moment with the corpses.
(SOUNDBITE OF A CROWD)
GARCIA-NAVARRO: So I'm inside the room where Moammar Gadhafi is being displayed to everyone. He's on a mattress covered in plastic with a dirty blanket.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Allah Akbar.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: People are shouting Allah Akbar, God is great. Coming in here, the excitement is palpable seeing the dead dictator. Beside him is his son, Mutassim, and his defense minister, slain as well in equally murky circumstances. Among the gathered crowd there is little pity or remorse at how Gadhafi met his violent end, in what is increasingly seeming like a cold-blooded execution.
Mahmoud Ameen says he took a grim satisfaction in seeing Gadhafi's curly locks on his lifeless body.
MAHMOUD AHMEEN: Well, I don't feel sorry for him, you know. I don't feel sorry that we lost him. In fact, I think we paid the price. We have a lot of blood. We paid a lot of blood in this country, you know.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Dia Arab came from the capital.
You came from Tripoli today why?
DIA ARAB: To see him, you know. To see him, you know. To see the guy we were suffering. He was giving us hard time and we were suffering for 42 years, you know? I wanted to see his end, you know.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Why did you want to see him with your eyes though?
ARAB: To believe.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Many echoed that sentiment, coming to make sure that indeed their deaths were not some hoax. Despite the call for an investigation by the U.N. and human rights groups into how Gadhafi and his son was killed, there is little appetite for that here.
And while how exactly Gadhafi died is unclear, his final days fighting for his life in Sirte are being detailed by those who were with him. Gadhafi's bodyguard, Mansour Dao, said in a television interview, that Gadhafi had been in Sirte since fleeing Tripoli after the fall of the capital. The Libyan leader apparently evaded capture by moving between homes in his hometown. The conditions were increasingly dire with little food at the end.
At the market, those facts were mulled over by the crowd. But the main debate centered on where and how Gadhafi should be buried. Islam decrees that the body should have been interred by sundown Friday.
Misrata fighter Sahda Haitham, who is overseeing the viewing at the meat locker, defended not burying Gadhafi, saying people should have a chance to see the deposed leader.
SAHDA HAITHAM: (Foreign language spoken)
GARCIA-NAVARRO: He says many of the people who are coming here have martyrs, people who were killed in the fight for our freedom. They have the right to see him.
HAITHAM: (Foreign language spoken)
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Haitham says Gadhafi should be buried here in Misrata as a message to all other want-to-be dictators in this country, who will know, he says, that they will meet their end in this city.
But that is the minority view. Most other people here say he should be buried in secret in an unmarked grave, so that his burial site won't become a shrine.
Holding a picture of her dead son who was killed during the battle for Tripoli, Raheel Baka says Gadhafi's corpse shouldn't be allowed to touch Libyan soil again.
RAHEEL BAKA: (Foreign language spoken)
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Gadhafi should be sent to his wife in Algeria, she says. Our land is too pure to be sullied by him.
Yousef al-Baderay is a financial consultant. He was blunt.
YOUSEF AL-BADERAY: Throw him in the sea, you know. Most of the Libyans, they say throw him in the sea.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Lourdes Garcia-Navarro, NPR News, Misrata. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright National Public Radio.