LIBYA: From Legend To Psycho
Muammar Ghaddafi’s unique Afro-Arab living style and closed border policy hardly gave a chance to look deep into his forty one year rule
WORLD BY NAYEEMA AHMAD MAHJOOR
It was my childhood dream to visit the land of the ‘lion of the desert’ in Libya where the legendary hero of Guerrilla warfare, Omar Mukhtar was born. He fought for twenty years against the colonial power, Italy, which sentenced him to death for challenging the colonial authority. Mukhtar became inspiration for many especially younger Muslim generations. More often I would compare him with the ‘lion of Kashmir’ Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah. But every time I learn more about him, his personality seemed altogether different from Abdullah though both had started their campaign against the mighty rulers. Mukhtar preferred death over surrendering for his people. Abdullah succeeded in over-throwing Maharaja yet he did not bring an end to the sufferings of Kashmir that had cherished a dream of Azadi and to date remained embedded onto its soul.
Mukhtar’s revolt, strategy and desert warfare led to his execution but ultimately it was his movement that paved the way for Libya’s liberation in 1951. As my father says ‘the day India and Pakistan achieved the independence, Kashmir lost its own’ same happened to Libya when it entered into the era of Muammar Gadafi’s rule after he over-threw King Idris from the power.
Gadafi’s new style of government raised new hope among Libyans from better life to better future, from dignity to prestige. Only after a few years of his regime it dawned upon the population that neither they have had a chance of better life, better future nor the right to enjoy normal life. Gaddafi became more interested in accumulating wealth rather than to care for his people.
For outsiders, the image of the country remained the same as it was displayed in the ‘lion of the desert’. And, at times even Gadhafi became a ‘Hero’ like Mukhtar.
The Islamic revolution in Iran or the defeat of Russian forces by Afghans in 80s did not influence the youth in a way as had Omer Mukhtar whose influence led to armed movement in many parts of the Muslim world. According to Libyan analyst, ‘what Mukhtar would have dreamt about Libya, Ghaddafi’s actions shattered it in the end. The destruction is much more than the colonial power had’.
Whether it was operation on Benghazi or sanctions imposed by United Nations or the Lockerbie bombing deals, Libya’s image did not change much because of the frail and old legend’s impact on impressionable mind of Muslim youth.
Muammar Ghaddafi’s unique Afro-Arab living style and closed border policy hardly gave a chance to look deep into his forty one year rule. It was general impression that his country has become truly liberated and prosperous too after it explored the huge reserves of oil and gas in its deserts.
Watching Ghaddafi’s efforts of uniting Arab leaders and his failures, his constant persuasion to get African countries together which resulted into the formation of African union and his emotional appeals for resolving conflicts from Kashmir to Palestine to international community on the floor of United Nations have virtually earned him a lot of respect in the above regions. He was thought to be the saviour by many poor Afro Arab nations of the world.
But, the public protests are unfolding and unveiling the repressive policies of the Libyan and other leaders.
Ghaddafi is not only rejected by his own people he has become pariah for the world community, even for those who had their coffers filled with Gaddafi’s assets.
What has reduced him from hero to zero?
Gadhafi has shut his eyes and ears to the cries of his population that is still deprived of their right to life and right to basic amenities.
He is not even willing to follow his counterparts in Egypt and Tunisia to calm down his people though Ghaddafi has been a follower of Gamal Abdul Nasser throughout his life.
His weird behaviour of being ‘delusional’ has turned him into psychopath who has become a laughing stalk for the rest of the world and embarrassment for his own people.
He is forcing civil war on his people, he has killed innocent protestors, he is bent to tear apart his country and he has no concern what destruction he has brought upon millions of people waiting on the Libyan –Tunisia border to get rescue and help.
What became evident recently since the eruption of public outrage that the country of six point five million had no political structure, no institution and no administrative set-up. Gaddafi like other Muslim rulers has never allowed any other leader or party to grow beyond him or his sons. Consequently, Libya has become a mess and the country is at the brink of division.
Keeping his iron grip on Tripoli he still thinks that he rules the whole country which has more or less slipped out of his hand on the day he used force against the deprived population. More than thousand revolutionaries have met with death and destruction.
Because of its oil wealth that makes the two percent of the total oil consumption of the world, the West was comfortable with Gadhafi even if he was torturing or maiming or depriving hundreds of his people. His style of offering millions during his royal tours in Wild West has made him darling of the Europe which arranged dance to entertainment parties for him and his family. Then, all of a sudden when the wave of protests engulfed the whole region the Western countries have now become concerned about human rights to civil liberties in the Middle East especially in Libya.
Though, more interesting factor is that the biggest democracies are still tight lipped. Apparently, seem only worried about their work force that is returning home due to public outrage in the Middle East.
The silence is understandable because India, Pakistan and other countries would hardly dare to criticise or talk of civil liberties in Libya because they know their track record of human rights and then the huge aid packages Libya has offered in the past.
It is only a matter of days when Ghaddafi or his rule of forty one year will become one more chapter in the Arab history but how sad the same history book has a chapter on the legendary hero who gave his life for ordinary Libyans when Ghaddafi is taking their life. And, their only crime is to get a chance to live with dignity and honour.
(Nayeema Ahmad Mahjoor is a London based Kashmir journalist, working for BBC Urdu service. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)
Lastupdate on : Sun, 6 Mar 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sun, 6 Mar 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Mon, 7 Mar 2011 00:00:00 IST
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