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Rain, Not Bullets

by Moira Peters

60 show solidarity with Libyans
Gadhafi must know! Gadhafi must go!
all ages brave freezing rain
Geoff Regan, MP Halifax West
60 gather in Victoria Park
umbrellas and hockey sticks
young women led the chanting

HALIFAX--Sixty people gathered today in Halifax to declare solidarity with Libyans whose demand for freedom from their erratic dictator has cost the lives of hundreds, maybe thousands. As Haligonians fought the freezing rain this afternoon in Victoria Park, their thoughts were with the people of Libya, fighting a reign much more dangerous than cold, wet weather.

Even while Libyan authorities have blocked internet and international phone service in the country, news reports today reveal escalating violence against anti-government protesters, while leader Muammar Gadhafi and his son, Saif al-Islam Muammar al-Gadhafi, vow to fight "to the death" for control of the country.

The umbrella-and-placard-toting group at Victoria Park in Halifax listened to short speeches, signed a petition, chanted and sang, to "spread the word" about what is happening in Libya, and show the Canadian government that "we want to live in a world without Gadhafi," said Mohamed Alzrighe from Halifax, in an address to the crowd.

Tellingly Canadian, protest signs were taped to hockey sticks and windshield ice scrapers.

The Liberal MP for Halifax West spoke for the people gathered, saying that standing in the rain was little sacrifice in order to show solidarity for Libyans, who were standing in a rain of bullets. Geoff Regan paid tribute to the now-famous 26-year-old Tunisian university graduate and fruit vendor who set himself on fire in December 2010 to protest abusive police actions toward the poor. Little did Mohammed Bouazizi know, said Regan, that his act sparked a fire that has spread across the Arab world, as popular uprisings have forced the fall of oppressive governments in Tunisia and then Egypt, and now in Libya, where the uprising has gripped the world's attention.

"The world is not the same," said Alzrighe, "The world is united, as one." He was referring to the communication revolution that has facilitated grassroots organization in the digital age, and the fact that it is harder for oppression to be hidden from the world. "There is no civil war in Libya. There is a war of Gadhafi against his people."

"I have never felt proud to be Libyan until now; people in Libya have sacrificed their flesh" for freedom, he said. "The least we can do is spread the word."

Another rally for Libya is organized for Sunday, February 27 at 11:00 am, at Victoria Park in Halifax.

Photographs by Moira Peters.

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