Questions: Rebel or Protester?

Which word describes best the role of the protesters in the Middle East? I noticed that the New York Times, BBC and some other media outlets are quite consistent in applying the term rebel. However, to me this word seems somewhat inadequate or connotated to deploy in this situation. Why?

Not just because I support the protesters in Libya, Tunesia, Egypt, Yemen, Oman, Bahrain, (Kuwait soon?),.. But because I think that rebel seems to imply something that some people maybe forget. Let’s check the Oxford Dictionary definition:

rebel |ˈrebəl|

a person who rises in opposition or armed resistance against an established government or ruler : Tory rebels | [as adj. ] rebel forces.
• a person who resists authority, control, or convention.

The last line pretty much touches the point I wanted to make. Because what is a convention? Isn’t that something that is that is considered acceptable or polite to most  members of a society? Well if that is so, then this means, that if we deploy the term rebel, that we are in fact assuming that the protesters are revolting against a commonly accepted situation. But do we actually know if Gaddafi’s view and position is accepted by the majority of the Libyans? Was Gaddafi’s power really supported by the majority, or was the majority of the Libyans in the past just too scared to think and express their real ideas and opinions about their government? I tend to think that the last one is the case, but in fact we don’t know.

Then, second, rebel also seems to connotate violence/force from the side of the protesters. And, as far I know, the protesters are in principle peaceful and did initially not intend to use any violent force. The violence seemed to initiated by the Gaddafi Loyalists.

So, then, who are the rebels?

[Btw: I decided to use the latin spelling of Gaddafi’s name with G, as most of the Libyans on Twitter seem to follow this spelling].

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