“No war, no fighting – everything is good now,” says another man who gave the name Ali. “Some people take some tablets and make some problems.”
But not even those few who took part were all convinced of their cause.
“It is a sin,” said one Libyan, who appeared to be an out-of-uniform policeman, privately to a Tunisian near him. “All these people are lying, and Qaddafi is playing his last card.”
The president was defiant Wednesday, speaking to supporters in a Tripoli ballroom in his latest public appearance. “Attacks on me are seen by Libyan people as attacks on their symbol and dignity,” said Qaddafi, who often broke off his address to note the “new” chants of support he said he heard from the audience.
“We put our fingers in the eyes of those who doubt that Libya is ruled by anyone other than its people,” he said. “I have always said that the Libyan people are free [to manage themselves].”
He denied that there were protests in Libya’s second city of Benghazi – which is in the hands of antiregime forces that have declared an interim government – and blamed “sleeper cells from Al Qaeda” for undermining the army and police forces.
This border has witnessed chaotic scenes in recent days, with as many as 18,000 people – mostly Egyptian workers – streaming across Libya’s Western border into Tunisia in a single 24-hour span. Since the Libyan uprising began Feb. 17, more than 78,000 others have also exited east to Egypt.
As the last crowds of Bangladeshis passed through the blue gate Wednesday, the shifting mass of humanity – mostly young men – left behind a thick carpet of detritus. Broken luggage, abandoned blankets, and torn plastic carry cases spread across the holding ground, mixed with single sandals, mashed food and bread.