Thousands of Libyans joined in a unique celebration on Friday afternoon and evening parading the longest flag in the world. An 8-kilomtere long Libyan tricolour was walked the 14 kilometres from Tajoura to Martyrs Square in Tripoli.
The crowds were again in celebratory mood to welcome the flag which started to arrive at around 6pm, Later, fireworks exploded overhead, hot air mini-balloons were lit, and from a makeshift stage music played — although the celebrations were not as big or momentous as those in the square last Friday, the first anniversary of the 17 February Revolution. Nonetheless, there were an estimated 2,000 people in the square, singing and cheering, by around 7pm.
A minute’s silence was held in memory of all those who died in last year’s revolution.
The celebrations merged with a more sombre demonstration also taking place in the square in support of the Syrian Revolution. People began arriving for that immediately after Friday prayers. Many of them had heard about the planned protest only as they left mosques across the city. “I was told about it at the mosque and came straight here,” said Hussam Zagaar.
One of the organisers of the Syrian demonstration, Said Mohamed Al-Sawr from Damascus who has lived in Tripoli for 20 years, said that in addition to his Syrian opposition group in Tripoli, there were now others in Misrata, Gharian and Zawia.
A large food tent sold a continuous supply of food. Syrian opposition flags and other items were also being sold in the square to raise money for Syria. Many people wore scarves with the colours of the Syrian opposition flag, evidently just purchased. Even more wore button-hole badges with the Libyan and Syrian flags.
“We need the money for medicines, food and blankets,” said Al-Sawr. “They go through Turkey and Jordan,” he added.
He said there was strong Libyan backing for the Syrian revolution. “Libyans are supporting us with everything they can,” he said.
“Libyan revolutionaries support Syrian revolutionaries”, read some of the banners held by protestors.
The Syrians were in confident mood despite the continued bloody crackdown at home. “It’s the beginning of winning the revolution,” predicted Al-Sawr confidently.
Asked if the outside world should intervene as they had in Libya, he eplied: ”If it’s for the good of the country, then why not?”
As the afternoon progressed more and more people thronged the square, intent on supporting both events, the flag ceremony and the Syrian demonstration. There was even a Kurdish protestor calling from a free Kurdistan.
By nightfall, it has become impossible to tell the two events apart. They were as one. The Libyan revolution and that in Syria appeared to be two sides of the same coin.