This commentary was published in The Guardian on 01/05/2011
This is just a snippet from the list of culprits that the Libyan government wants you to believe are responsible for the recent violence in Libya.
Over the last two months we have seen the feeble attempts of the media arm of the Libyan regime try to disseminate pro-Gaddafi propaganda and enhance its stature both abroad and with Libyan civilians via the state television.
State TV broadcasts hours of talk shows every day inviting guests to talk about the current situation. They often have zero insight into the atrocities being committed and some well-known guests have even claimed that dead saints and demons fight amongst the ranks of Gaddafi's forces.
The Libyan TV anchor Hala Misrati is one of many of the regime's public faces who spew this sensationalist rubbish. Her recent highlights include a claim that al-Jazeera cameraman Hassan Ali Jaber, the first journalist to be killed during the conflict, was murdered by al-Jazeera itself. She also delivered a 10-minute tirade claiming Eman al-Obeidi was a prostitute and interrogated the captured Syrian journalist Rana Alakabani live on air for daring to mention on her tapped cellphone that she had to queue up for bread.
It seems that with every attempt to improve their public stature, they stumble over themselves even further – which is a shame considering that they have previously received expert consultancy from one of the world's leading PR firms. The Libyan government throughout this saga has shown itself to be incoherent and inconsistent.
For Libyan citizens, any actions or even thoughts that divulge from the party line are regarded as thought crime. Thought police (also known as the revolutionary guards) would punish such deplorable actions by taking those responsible to Room 101 never to be seen again. If we take the Orwellian analogy further, one can see parallels between Gaddafi and the dictator/pig in Animal Farm.
Then there is our favourite clown: government spokesman Musa Ibrahim.
According to him, the Libyan regime was planning a new constitution, political reform, free elections and a democracy. During an interview with CNN's Anderson Cooper, we saw him claim that Libyan revolutionaries are drugged up with hallucinatory pills. State TV even went further and tried to show evidence which turned out to be Tramadol – a drug whose side effects include drowsiness and constipation. Only this week, Musa Ibrahim showed his blind allegiance to Gaddafi by claiming that not even God can choose Gaddafi's future in Libya.
We have seen the Libyan government (mainly through Musa Ibrahim) announce a ceasefire three times – for it to be violated immediately. Despite Musa Ibrahim's fabrication of events, the indiscriminate massacre of civilians continues in the besieged city of Misrata using illegal cluster munitions, and has left more than 1,000 civilians dead.
There still seem to be some who see a political future for the Gaddafi family in Libya, such as Saif Gaddafi's former associate Benjamin Barber. His call for "dialogue" ignores the root of the problem which is the Gaddafis themselves. When confronted by gangs of mercenaries, rapists, torturers and murderers using child soldiers intent on the destruction of everything and anyone in their path, there is little room for negotiation.
Others are choosing to jump on the Libyan media bandwagon by claiming that the revolutionaries are being controlled by al-Qaida cells and Islamic extremists. If Abdel Bari Atwan, the editor-in-chief of al-Quds al-Arabi, wishes to make such sensationalist comments, he should back them by evidence.
I wish to put the record straight on Libya as I see it. Libya is a largely conservative country in comparison to some of its Arab neighbours. Libyans are highly educated. They reject extremism in all its forms.
We have been subjected to the extremist Gaddafi rule for a period that spans over six decades. It is not desirable for Libyans to let extremism of any kind sabotage the revolution, whether this is political, religious, liberalist, military or otherwise. We are a Muslim, Arab, Libyan nation and we wave our banner proudly, but we are a people of moderation.
The time for negotiation with Gaddafi ended the moment that he started shooting at peaceful protesters in Benghazi on the 15 February. The blood of Libyan citizens has been spilled before the world's eyes, and although this is not the first time Muammar Gaddafi has done so in the last 42 years, this time Libyan citizens cannot pretend to continue to live their normal lives under his rule – and the citizens of the world cannot do this either.
The tide has finally turned against Gaddafi, and the waves of freedom are lapping up the shores of Bab al-Azizia, his stronghold in Tripoli. Despite this, Gaddafi's government only wants to send you this message: don't believe what you see, don't believe what you hear, just believe what we tell you to believe.