Abigail Hauslohner reports from “Free Libya”:
Tobruk is several hundred miles away from Benghazi, the first large epicenter of the revolt, and even farther from Tripoli, the Libyan capital. But local activists felt wired into the revolutions going on far beyond the borders of their nation, even though foreign newspapers were never for sale in Gaddafi’s Libya and websites were often blocked, says Gamal Shallouf, a marine biologist who has joined the newly fledged opposition. While the Internet has been down here since the revolution started, the regime’s inability to shut down new-media innovations entirely has been key to spreading Libya’s revolt.
“Generally, in Libya before this, there was no media,” explains Shallouf. “So if Tobruk made a revolution, [the government] would spend three to five days killing us and finish the revolution. Nobody in [larger nearby communities and cities] al-Baida or Darna or Benghazi would have heard about it. But now with al-Jazeera and Facebook and the media, all of Libya hears about the revolution and is with the revolution. They know about it. They think, ‘I am Libyan, this is my family, so I will go to the street to fight for them.’ ”
He and fellow Libyans had followed the Tunisian and Egyptian uprisings on al-Jazeera and satellite Arabic-language news channels. He did his best, along with other Libyan activists, to internally circulate the videos he saw so that other Libyans could get a glimpse of what was happening on either side of their closed-off country. “After I got videos from the Internet, we sent them from Bluetooth to Bluetooth. Mostly videos of fighting in Egypt. I felt two things when I saw these videos: I felt sad. And then I wanted to make a revolution!”
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