Libya: Opposition forces or rebels?

Following Twitter feedback on our coverage of Libya, this Twitterpoll gives an overview of what our readers thought of the term &quotrebel&quot.

    During earlier coverage of the uprising in Libya, anti-government protesters were referred to as either "anti-Gaddafi opposition", "pro-democracy demonstrators" or just plain "protesters".

    But when the violence escalated and the opposition members took up arms against Gaddafi's military, the word rebel was used to describe them.

    Following Twitter feedback on the use of this word, I conducted a Twitterpoll on what our readers thought of the term "rebel". Some people are in favour, while others argue that the word has too many unintended connotations - in between we have those that are indifferent to the choice of words, saying that the most factual and convenient form should be used to describe them.

    Here are some responses I received, collated using the Keepstream platform.

    Also, Blake Hounshell, managing editor of Foreign Policy, and Susan Chira, New York Times' foreign editor, discuss protesters versus rebels on NPR's On The Media show.

    Hounshell says that he does not find rebel a negative word at all, and there are those who like to "root for the underdog". He adds that in this case rebel is a positive term for the anti-Gaddafi forces.

    "You can't call someone with an RPG a protester any more, at that point they become a rebel," he says. He and Chira go on to discuss at what point in a series of events a protester actually become a rebel. Here is the recording:

     


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