Citizens now openly defying struggling regime
Medhi Abdelmoshin had cast himself in the mould of Muammar Gaddafi. But in a gesture of personal defiance yesterday, he asked the barber to shave off his curly black-dyed hair.
As the razor cut to a close grey crop, he inspected himself and declared he was a man transformed.
The last straw, the 59-year-old dentist said, was Col Gaddafi's speech to loyalists at his Bab al-Azizia headquarters on Tuesday night.
"He said there were demonstrations supporting him everywhere. He said fascists were attacking Libya," he said. "It's all lies."
Just weeks ago, Libyans would have been too cowed by the regime's agents to speak out against the long-serving Brother Leader.
After crushing demonstrations on the streets of Tripoli last month, Gaddafi told the BBC that "all" his people loved him. With Libya under attack from an international coalition, it is inescapable that Gaddafi is struggling to mobilise support.
At a market in Tripoli, people were dismissive of the government's claims that the attacks were designed to colonise Libya.
"His days are done. We need to step from darkness into light," a stallholder said.
State television's efforts to show burgeoning support for the regime were widely mocked.
Only a few hundred cheered Gaddafi in person as he made his first public appearance since the bombing began.
After being accused of using mercenaries to fight at the front line, Gaddafi yesterday drafted in African migrants to lead protests at his compound.
The claim that Gaddafi "lives in every heart" rings hollow. Tripoli is a city where betrayal lurks in every corner. (© Daily Telegraph, London)