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Libyan rebel guitarist rocks the front line

17 April 2011 No Comment

THE Libyan revolution has been tough on rebel fighter and guitarist Massoud Abu Assir’s rock band. His bass player was captured by Muammar Gaddafi’s forces, and his drummer is off fighting on the front line.

But those setbacks haven’t stopped the 38-year-old amateur musician from composing songs in support of the revolution and performing them for rebels on the battlefield. He made an appearance on Saturday on the outskirts of the front line city of Ajdabiya as fierce fighting raged about 40km away.

‘My homeland will be strong. My homeland will be free. We will take our homeland up high,’ he sang in folksy Arabic verse, reminiscent of Bob Dylan. Several dozen rebels crowded around as he sang, clapping their hands and joining in. One rebel enthusiastically fired his AK-47 in the air.

Abu Assir’s own gun was slung over his shoulder, and midway through the impromptu performance, someone draped a red, black and green rebel flag on his shoulders. He was dressed in a green camouflage uniform like many of the other rebels, but his floppy curls showed his love for rock stars like Bob Marley and Santana. ‘We are rebels. We come from the east. We are determined to do what we want,’ he sang in another song.

Abu Assir, who is from Benghazi, joined the fight against Gaddafi from the very beginning but had to take a few days off recently because his wife is five months pregnant. Besides playing music, Abu Assir owns a small restaurant and coffee shop.

He said he is not only fighting for democracy, but also for the right to perform his music. His band – originally called Libya Tomorrow but now known as Free Libya – tried to perform on Libyan television in the past but was told they must sing songs praising Gaddafi.

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