Archive for March 2011
Despite the brutality of the regime, one woman yesterday was prepared to risk everything to get her message out to the wider world.
As foreign journalists sat down to breakfast in a Tripoli hotel, a well-dressed Libyan woman in her thirties charged into the dining room, crying out that Gadaffi’s militiamen had gang-raped her.
“They swore at me and they filmed me. I was alone. There was whisky. I was tied up. They peed on me. They violated my honour,” said Eman al-Obaidi, who said she had been arrested at a checkpoint in Tripoli because she came from the rebel stronghold of Benghazi.
She pulled up her skirt, showing blood on one of her thighs. Obaidi said she had been held for two days and raped by 15 men. “Look at my face,” she cried. Both cheeks bore lacerations. “Look at my back, all my body is bruised.”
As she told her story, government minders and hotel staff tried to drag her away, attacking journalists who blocked them. One waitress, normally seen serving coffee with a smile, grabbed a knife and screamed at Obaidi: “You traitor! How dare you say that?”
Another minder pulled out a 9mm handgun. Obaidi was forced into a garden outside. “Leave me alone,” she shouted as a Libyan man tried to cover her mouth with his hand. She was then dragged to a parking lot and bundled into a white car. Security men said they were taking her to hospital. “They are taking me to jail,” she yelled. “They are taking me to jail.”
Moussa Ibrahim, the government’s spokesman, said later that there were serious allegations against five men, and that the woman had been given a lawyer. He added she showed no signs of being mentally deranged and promised the press would be invited to interview her in the coming days.
Hundreds of allied airstrikes smashed into their targets across Libya last night. But in the capital Tripoli, a stronghold for Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, men, women and children loyal to their leader danced to Libyan hip-hop music.
At Colonel Gaddafi’s residence, a surreal carnival atmosphere gripped the dictator’s supporters, who waved green flags and placards that read: “We are waiting for you and so are the fishes”.
Some young men had clambered on top of a statue depicting a giant gold fist crushing an American warplane in its palm. Many said they were prepared to give their lives for Colonel Gadaffi, who has ruled for more than 40 years, if his residence was struck.
But when word of the bombs spread through the crowd, the human shield thinned out as people rushed to get home.
Only a hardcore of loyal fans stayed on, waiting for their leader to make a speech from the balcony of a building partially destroyed by American air-strikes in 1986. But they waited in vain. The Libyan leader never appeared. Later that night, he addressed the nation by telephone from an undisclosed location. Read the rest of this entry »
“This is going to be awesome,” boomed the American director through his megaphone.
The Afghan horsemen, who were lined up in front of him on a muddy plain close to the outskirts of Kabul, boomed back: “Allah Akbar – God is Great”, as they punched the air with their fists.
So began Buzkashi Boys – an American-funded film whose crew includes the cameraman from the Oscar-winning film The Hurt Locker.
The film, which finished shooting on Friday, is based around Afghanistan’s national sport – Buzkashi.
The game is a largely lawless and violent mix of rugby and polo played with a beheaded calf for a ball. Up to fifty riders compete for money as they try to rip the headless carcass from each another before dumping it in a chalk circle in the middle of a large pitch. The best players, whose horses are worth up to $10,000, are revered as national heroes in a country that lacks sports idols.
The men behind Buzkashi Boys – Hollywood-trained American director Sam French and Afghan-Canadian producer Ariel Nasr – hope their film will kick start the regeneration of an Afghan film industry that decades of war and Taliban repression has left in tatters. Read the rest of this entry »