Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Abdul Jalil: The wise man of the Libyan revolution | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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We should not forget that prior to entering Tripoli with his men, Mustafa Abdul Jalil – one of the most prominent faces of the Libyan revolution – offered Gaddafi and his sons the opportunity to leave the country and live in exile wherever they wanted, in order to avoid more bloodshed. These were during the last, decisive hours, of Gaddafi’s rule, but dictators are always late. Gaddafi chose instead to flee and hide in the sewers.

In reality I do not know how the Libyans could have united without a man such as Abdul Jalil. He had sufficient legitimacy and popularity to – where necessary – hold his men to account and forgive his enemies.

In Libya, like any country where the people have suffered great injustice, it is difficult to forgive and forget. After 40 years, during which Gaddafi’s tyranny permeated Libya and the wider world, it is difficult to ask his victims to move on. Yet Abdul Jalil declared an amnesty even for pro-Gaddafi fighters during the revolution. He addressed the citizens saying: “We are capable of forgiveness. We are capable of absorbing our brothers who fought the rebels. We are capable of encompassing those who committed either actions or words against the revolution. Forgiveness and pardon are among the main teachings of Islam”.

Thus the Libyan revolution was fortunate to have such a man, who is now leading the country onwards without looking behind. He is teaching his followers and citizens to begin governance with the toughest and most important lesson; namely that revenge is not a characteristic of victorious and strong people. He has taught them that the greatest mark of victory in Islam is “to offer amnesty when you are able”. In this way, the Libyans can move forwards without bearing grudges.

The Libyans have much to do in order to rebuild what has been destroyed by the ousted regime over four long decades of tyranny. Gaddafi loyalists used to openly predict that Libya would become divided if Gaddafi fell. They believed that the Libyans would then enjoy peace only through partition, due to the already existing divisions that were enforced by the ousted regime, and inherited by the protesters.

Yet Mustafa Abdul Jalil succeeded in resolving the disputes among the rebels. They were united only in their aim to overthrow Gaddafi’s regime; other than that they were rival groups. However, they galvanised their front, reached the capital and ousted Gaddafi and his regime, despite their divisions and intellectual differences, as well as their visions for the future of Libya.