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What about Libya?

The Arab world is fired up right now. Paving the way, the people of Tunisia and Egypt have successfully removed their dictators and are in the process of rebuilding their countries. The revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt have sparked anti-government movements across the entire Arab world, after decades of stagnation. And there is no turning back now.

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Furious protests are happening now in Libya, Bahrain and Yemen. Governments are scrambling to do everything they can to stop them, by any means necessary. Still, hundreds of thousands of people are out in the streets protesting with no fear, ready to die in the name of freedom.

Libya is in one of the most dire situations right now. Libyans have suffered under Gaddafi’s tyranny for 42 years. As the longest running dictator in the Arab world, Gaddafi has ruled the nation with an iron fist. Please don’t be fooled by his perceived harmless, flamboyant dress or eccentric behavior. And Arabs, please don’t be bamboozled by his supposed anti-imperialist rhetoric and criticisms of Israel.  His actions speak louder than his words.

Gaddafi’s regime has a poor record for human rights.  He is responsible for the arbitrary arrest, torture and murder of countless prisoners, even without charge or trial. The judiciary is controlled by the regime, and there is no right to a fair public trial. The rights to freedom of speech, press, assembly, association and religion are restricted.  Although Gaddafi pretends to be some sort of defender of the Palestinians, he ordered the ethnic cleansing of 30,000 Palestinian refugees from Libya.  His criticisms of Israel are merely a way to deflect criticisms of his own regime. Gaddafi has maintained his rule by using his wealth, playing up the tribal loyalties in Libya and instilling fear in the population.

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20

02 2011

Bahrain, Ya Bahrain.

Bahrain, Ya Bahrain

I was crying on the way from work.  My tears could not stop.  How could anyone attack people as they slept? … At a traffic light, a policeman approached me. He thought I was crying because of the red light.  I told him – massacre in Bahrain.  His response?

Innocenet Child Murdered

You’re Bahraini? You have family there?  We are all family, I replied.

I have tired of people assuming that only someone from a particular country would be impacted by actions there. I have tired of people asking me: Are you Egyptian? And when I say no, they say, ah, so you’re interested in politics, then? sigh…

I have been – and continue to be – inspired by Tunisia and Egypt, inspired by the rising up of the people and by their success in expelling a dictator.  I am inspired by the protests in Bahrain and Yemen and Algeria and Libya … Many of us are…

I could make the argument that what happens throughout the Arab world does impact us here in Lebanon. I could make the argument that democracy there brings stability here. I could argue that with the change of the government in Egypt – even if in facade only – Israel will be uneasy and thus less likely to attack Lebanon, as a colleague of mine at the university stated today.

Yet, that is not what inspires me. That is not why what is happening – there – is relevant – here.

It is important because people are rising – first and foremost. It is important because when people rise up against injustice, they break their own chains of fear and inspire us all to rise up against injustice. And, yes, the closer the revolt for liberty, the greater an impact it has.  And, yes, when those organizing and protesting are Arab, it means even more to us here in Lebanon.

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17

02 2011