"... death found Kais al-Hilali in more traditional revolutionary fashion this week: at night, in a hail of bullets fired by unknown assailants barely an hour after he finished his latest work.
"I was standing by Kais as he painted," recalled Abdullah al- Zawway, a Benghazi businessman sponsoring his art. "He was doing a large caricature of Gaddafi on a roundabout which we're renaming the Misratah Martyrs in respect for our brothers in the besieged city. A lot of people were crowding around watching.
"It was getting dangerous. Among them were sure to be some of Gaddafi's people. So I told Kais to stop his work and leave. He was dead soon afterwards.""
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In Tripoli, official portraits of Muammar Gaddafi are everywhere: on giant murals and billboards, in hotel lobbies, offices, shops, homes, and schools. The "Brotherly Leader and Guide of the Revolution" usually appears as a sort of deity or in military uniform with rays of light shining behind him. Throughout Gaddafi's reign, his obsessive control of how and where his image appears has been straight out of the dictator's textbook.
In Benghazi, a day's drive east along the Mediterranean coast, there are also lots of public pictures of the man who has ruled this desert country for more than four decades. But here, his image is used as a weapon against him.
Caricatures of the vilified leader and anti-regime or pro-democracy graffiti are popping up throughout the city centre and in recently trashed army bases, on building sites and on any suitable walls. There are posters of Gaddafi pumping petrol into a winged camel, Gaddafi with the tail of a snake and a forked tongue, Gaddafi as Dracula, Gaddafi as a clown, Gaddafi being bitten by a dog, Gaddafi getting a boot in the head. The variations are countless. Another popular theme is an often bloodstained Gaddafi terrorising or slaughtering his people or plundering the oil-rich nation's wealth.
Tobruk, al-Bayda, Derna and other towns in the rebel-held east have also joined in this artistic act of rebellion, and their walls also sport caricatures ridiculing the flamboyant strongman whose many eccentricities make him a perfect target for satire.
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The New York Times' Lens blog has an interesting gallery of Gaddafi caricatures, artwork, and graffiti made to protest the Libyan leader and portray him in an otherwise unflattering light.
"Before the Libyan opposition began retreating before forces loyal to Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, Finbarr O’Reilly of Reuters took account of the wealth of anti-Qaddafi graffiti and other graphic expressions of popular anger, which include some anti-Semitic sentiments. He wrote to Lens:
Like many dictators, Qaddafi carefully controlled how his image was used, often portraying himself as a deity or beloved leader. With the rebellion, however, freedom of expression in rebel-controlled areas means that ridicule has become a key weapon in the fight against the climate of fear that has long gripped the country. Anti-Qaddafi caricatures and graffiti have sprung up across cities like Benghazi, most of them portraying him in an unflattering light."
Images sourced via google image search
A Libyan girl passes by a wall depicting a graffiti image of Colonel Moamer Kadhafi in the eastern rebel strong city of Benghazi. source
A Libyan boy runs past graffiti at Revolution Square in the eastern rebel stronghold of Benghazi on May 11, 2011
A rebel walks next to a cartoon depicting Moammar Gadhafi as Adolf Hitler, holding a book titled 'My green book' in the rebel Media Center in Benghazi, Libya, Monday, May 16, 2011
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TIME contract photographer Yuri Kozyrev is in eastern Libya, documenting the battle between Gaddafi loyalists and rebel forces.
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"The images below are of the graffiti he saw along the way. Most of them are from Beida, where he met an Egyptian doctor who gave him a tour of the town."
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