Libyans Fighting Back Against Reactionary Militias

While we certainly ought to be concerned about the influence of Islamist groups in those countries that overthrew their dictators during the Arab Spring, there is good news out of Libya, where the pro-democracy forces are fighting back against the Islamic reactionaries. Reuters reports:

Chanting “Libya, Libya,” hundreds of demonstrators entered, pulling down militia flags and torching a vehicle inside the compound, Ansar al-Sharia’s main base in Benghazi – once the base of forces of former leader Muammar Gaddafi.

The crowd waved swords and even a meat cleaver, crying “No more al Qaeda!” and “The blood we shed for freedom shall not go in vain!”

“After what happened at the American consulate, the people of Benghazi had enough of the extremists,” said demonstrator Hassan Ahmed. “They did not give allegiance to the army. So the people broke in and they fled.”

“This place is like the Bastille. This is where Gaddafi controlled Libya from, and then Ansar al-Sharia took it over. This is a turning point for the people of Benghazi.”

There is much oversimplification and demagoguery over the recent attacks. The American right wing seems to believe that the attacks were the fault of the government (or at least they want to claim that to blame Obama for supporting that government) and that everyone in Libya or Egypt is firmly in the grip of Al Qaeda or the Muslim brotherhood. But there are deep divisions in both countries, with rival groups with very different goals fighting for influence and power.

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  • nemistenem

    This is good news indeed. It is uncommon in that part of the world, with the events of the last year+, to have any confidence that many of the Arab Spring nations will not fall into a long cycle of Islamic governance with detrimental ripple effects around the world. If this story is true, it is a welcome sign that the power of the people (although I’m not sure this view is majority in Libya or any other Arab country at present)may get in the Islamist’s way of gaining ever more power in this very volatile region. As a side note, I spent much of my childhood in Tripoli since dad worked in the Sahara for almost 10 years exploring for oil. We ex-pat kids had run-ins with the local Libyan kids often, especially after Kaddafi took power and during the ’67 war. But, we also had Arab friends who showed us many kindesses. I am rooting for these people even as I abhor the religion that rules their everyday lives. Another aside, I saw King Abdullah’s interview with Jon Stewart last night, he claims to be a direct descendent of Mohammed! He’s a very bright and thoughtful man for whom I have respect for his moderate views in a radical region but that must cloud his every thought and decision!

  • While we certainly ought to be concerned about the influence of Islamist groups

    Why is that?

  • matty1

    While we certainly ought to be concerned about the influence of Islamist groups

    Why is that?

    Well it is conditional but. If you are concerned about the ability of other human beings to live free from being forced to follow religious rules. Then you pretty much have to be concerned about how much influence Islamists have over their neighbours.

  • iangould

    The current Turkish Islamist government doesn’t force human beings to follow religious rules. Netiher does the tunisan government.

    Most “Islamists” are democrats whose concerns are for more with democracy and social justice than with Burkhas and stonings.

    The radcial Salafi groups are a small minority whose importance has been vastly overstated in the WEst.

  • Brad

    Awesome! Well… relatively anyway. An “It’s too bad they had to” kind of thing.

  • criticaldragon1177

    Ed Brayton,

    I heard about this. This is great news. So much for the paranoia in the anti Muslim “counter Jihad” blogs. Sorry I didn’t see this until now, but I was busy elsewhere.