Arab Today, arab today flushed with freedom libya university awaits student rebels
Last Updated : GMT 18:00:33
Arab Today, arab today
Arab Today, arab today

Flushed with freedom, Libya university awaits student rebels

Arab Today, arab today

Arab Today, arab today Flushed with freedom, Libya university awaits student rebels

Tripoli - AFP

In the lobby of the University of Tripoli's engineering department, Abdo Raouf was painting a mural in honour of a "free Libya," nodding his head to the rhythm of hard rock music. "We can finally speak freely," said the 23-year-old geophysics major, who sported a bandana around his head. "We can finally be ourselves instead of being afraid." Home to some 80,000 students, this campus in the heart of the Libyan capital has been radically altered by former strongman Moamer Kadhafi's ouster from Tripoli in August. Named "Al-Fateh University" under Kadhafi, the newly-dubbed University of Tripoli is now free of the all-green flags of the former regime and instead flies the red, black and green rebel flag. Posted on bulletin boards across campus are cartoons of the "Brother Leader" Kadhafi fleeing for his life. Other, more somber posters commemorate students killed in the eight-month uprising. While students and faculty are largely jubilant over the toppling of Kadhafi, a major problem remains. Missing from roll call are student rebels fighting for control over the last pro-Kadhafi cities in their country. "We should resume classes in a week, but many of our students are still at the front lines" in the cities of Sirte and Bani Walid, said architecture professor Mohamed Ali Wafa. Students have started a petition calling for classes to be suspended until the conflict is over and student fighters return. The petition has already garnered some 1,000 signatures on campus. "We won't go back to school before the return of all the teachers and students who went to fight and before the whole of Libya is free," said Surur Ekari, a 19-year-old student with heavily lined eyes and a pink headscarf. Perhaps the most significant change at the University of Tripoli is in the syllabus which no longer features the "Green Book," a text spelling out Kadhafi's philosophy which was mandatory in curricula across the country. Reflecting on his years as an educator under Kadhafi, economics professor Hatim Gweri for the first time feels he can speak candidly. "We had to teach 'Jamahiriya' things, like Kadhafi is the best in the world, he is the king of kings of Africa, and so on," Gweri told AFP. "This is no longer in the programme ... I am so happy." A spirit of solidarity to support young Libyan rebels has washed over the University of Tripoli campus, where students have found different ways to support their peers on the battlefield. One group of young women blew colourful balloons in preparation for a festival they are organising to help raise funds for injured student fighters. Others, meanwhile, are preparing for careers they believe will help them play an active role in future of their country. "I want to become a judge in order to help build the new Libya," said 20-year-old law student Asma al-Jabri. Many students also voice concern over the psychological and emotional health of their colleagues once they return from the battlefield. "When the rebels come back, they will be tired," said 22-year-old Sara Rashid. "They will have to give up their weapons. They will have to adapt."

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