In Tripoli, Celebrating More Than Ramadan's End Muslims are marking the end of the fasting month of Ramadan. For Libyans, the holiday has a special resonance this year because of the rebel takeover of Tripoli, the capital.
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In Tripoli, Celebrating More Than Ramadan's End

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In Tripoli, Celebrating More Than Ramadan's End

In Tripoli, Celebrating More Than Ramadan's End

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  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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MELISSA BLOCK, host: In Libya today, there are reports that one of Moammar Gadhafi's sons wants to negotiate his own surrender. Saadi Gadhafi has reportedly told a senior rebel military commander that he wants to give himself up, provided certain guarantees. Meanwhile, the rebels have given Gadhafi's hometown of Sirte until Saturday to hand over the city peacefully or, they say, they will launch an all out attack.

ROBERT SIEGEL, host: We turn now to Libya's capital, where people are celebrating the end of the fasting month of Ramadan. NPR's Lourdes Garcia-Navarro reports that Tripoli residents are cautiously optimistic about the future, despite some very real challenges in the present.

LOURDES GARCIA-NAVARRO: Eid al-Fitris is always a time of joyous celebration in the Muslim world. The long fasting month is over and friends and family gather, exchanging gifts and sharing meals.

But here in Tripoli, Alaa al-Najaa says it has a special resonance because of the rebel takeover of the capital.

ALAA AL-NAJAA: This is the big Eid this year. We haven't seen Eid before like that. In my life, I haven't seen the big one like that, especially the children.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Al-Najaa helped organize this neighborhood party at a local school. Dozens of children and their parents have gathered here this Eid, eating cake and playing. Everyone donated some money and pitched in with supplies.

So I'm in one of the rooms here at the center, and it's littered with crayons and markers and pieces of paper, and the children here are drawing. And what they're drawing, I think, is indicative of the way people say that they feel. They say that this is more than a celebration of Eid. This is a celebration of their very freedom. And all the children here are drawing pictures of the new Libyan flag, something that would've gotten them arrested here only two weeks ago.

JIHAD ANAS: (Foreign language spoken)

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Ten-year-old Jihad Anas has a gash on his forehead, suffered after he sneaked out with his older brother, who was fighting Gadhafi loyalists in his Tripoli neighborhood of Fashloom 10 days ago.

ANAS: (Foreign language spoken)

GARCIA-NAVARRO: He says he used to secretly draw the rebel flag at home and then rip up the pictures, so no one would see.

But while people are enjoying what they call their liberation, life in the capital is a struggle. There is limited water, electricity, services and money. The banks opened for the first time yesterday, and they were mobbed with people desperate to withdraw funds to buy much-needed supplies for the Eid festivities.

CAUTER MAHMOUD ZAGLUT: (Foreign language spoken)

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Cauter Mahmoud Zaglut says she was turned away. She hasn't been able to get money out for months, and she's living hand to mouth. And even people who have the funds are finding it hard to make the money last.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Expensive, very expensive. Very expensive

GARCIA-NAVARRO: At the butchers, people line up to buy lamb.

OMAR KHALIFA: (Foreign language spoken)

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Omar Khalifa says food prices have almost trebled in the past few weeks and food is scarce. Because there's no regular deliveries into the capital, shopkeepers can charge whatever they want, he says.

For now, everyone seems to be accepting the situation here with equanimity. But the longer this goes on, the less patience people will have. The challenge for the new rebel leadership will be to get the country up and running as quickly as possible.

Back at the neighborhood party, English teacher Huda Shegleb says the aftermath of 42 years of brutal dictatorship and six months of war will not be easy.

HUDA SHEGLEB: It will take a long time, I think, to get better.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: The children and their parents move to a room to cut what looks like a birthday cake covered in a rebel flag made out of icing.


GARCIA-NAVARRO: Huda ululates as the candles are lit. With huge smiles, those gathered this Eid sing the rebel national anthem. It's the first time people here say they've sung it publicly, though they all know the words.


GARCIA-NAVARRO: Whatever the future brings, at this moment in this place, the message is clear. Libyans have made their voices heard and they won't be silenced again.


GARCIA-NAVARRO: Lourdes Garcia-Navarro, NPR News, Tripoli.

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