Libyan revolutionaries used dating website to organize anti-Gaddafi protests

February 25th, 2011 - 3:14 pm ICT by ANI  

Facebook Tripoli, Feb 25(ANI): Libya’s revolutionaries used a dating website to organize their revolt against dictator Muammar al-Gaddafi, and to avoid detection by the country’s secret police, former opposition leader Omar Shibliy Mahmoudi has revealed.

Mahmoudi said that he used dating site ‘Mawada’ to rally people together while staying out of the gaze of the Libyan secret police, which monitors Twitter and Facebook.

It was “for the freedom, not for the marriage,” Mahmoudi told ABC News.

He also said that he was never politically active before, but as he watched revolutions topple governments in neighboring countries, he knew he needed to act.

So, he created a Mawada profile called “Where Is Miriam?” and pretended to be on the hunt for a wife.

The website doesn’t allow men to communicate with other men, so other revolutionaries posed as women to contact him, assuming aliases like “Sweet Butterfly”, “Opener of the Mountain”, “Girl of the Desert” and “Melody of Torture”.

The revolutionaries used poetry laced with revolutionary references to gauge support and make initial contact. Then they had detailed follow-up conversations via text message and Yahoo Messenger.

The phrase “May your day be full of Jasmine”, for example, is a coded reference to what has been called the ‘Jasmine Revolution’ sweeping the region, Mahmoudi said.

He said the response “And the same to you. I hope you will call me” meant they were ready to begin.

If the undercover “lovers” wrote “I want love”, it meant “I want liberty”, Mahmoudi said.

Mahmoudi said that he attracted 171,323 “admirers” to a number of profiles on the dating site before Libya’s Internet crashed on Saturday.

He had aimed to attract 50,000 as a sufficient number to take to the streets in protest.

Libya has been in the grip of turmoil since anti-Gaddafi protests began on February 15.

Two days later, the government launched a violent crackdown on protesters, with witnesses reporting that mercenaries had been hired to patrol the streets and fire on citizens indiscriminately with machine guns and heavy weapons.

The use of air attacks against civilian targets have also been reported by witnesses and air force personnel who have refused to carry out those orders.

Meanwhile, Tripoli remains under lockdown, amid reports that protesters have called for anti-government forces to march on the city after Friday prayers. (ANI)

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