“Screaming and chanting his name, the 500 women and girls vowed their undying love for one man. Not a pop star or Hollywood actor, but Libya’s Colonel Muammar Gaddafi.
‘Kill all the people in Libya first, then come for Muammar Gaddafi,’ said 14-year-old Fatima Hassan. ‘I will kill myself if Muammar Gaddafi is killed. I know our people will kill themselves if he dies.’
The event in Tripoli on Sunday was billed as a graduation ceremony for women who had been given weapons training in defence of the regime. Around 50 international journalists, invited and escorted by government minders, arrived to find them clapping, singing, ululating, punching the air and waving green flags in a tented hall set up with chandeliers and two colossal flatscreen TVs.
There were elderly women and little girls in the hall, and every age in between. Some held aloft pictures of a luminous Gaddafi, one framed in green Christmas tinsel. A woman waved a green flag and wore a sparkly green cape, green scarf and green bandana with badges showing Gaddafi’s face. Next to her was a woman wearing a watch that displayed his image.
Reporters pondered whether the event had been stage managed entirely for their benefit. The Gaddafi groupies painted the first dozen rows green, but behind them were hundreds of empty seats. Outside was a rattle of gunfire as some enthusiastic graduates fired their new weapons into the air with little regard for where the ammunition might land.” - David Smith (in Tripoli)
Libya unveils its latest weapon against Nato: women at arms
[Photo: Mahmud Turkia/AFP/Getty Images]