Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Gaddafi on a trip | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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For the vast majority of people across Arab world, Libya has always been something of an unknown entity, for people knew very little about this country. They knew that there was once a great hero named Omar Mukhtar, who led an independence battle against fascist Italian occupation. They also knew that, after the country’s three regions were unified, Libya was ruled by a virtuous and righteous king named Idris al-Senussi. Finally, they are aware that an eccentric individual called Muammar Gaddafi has been ruling the country for the last 42 years, and that his era is full of mystery and dubious incidents, whereby the biggest victims have been the Libyans themselves.

The Gaddafi regime effectively curtailed all aspects of Libyan civil society; there was no art, no cultural production of any sort, no sporting achievements, and instead the Gaddafi era was marked by its commotion and destructive chaos.

All Libyan cultural figures live outside the country. Libya was the birthplace of the late prominent Islamic thinker Sadiq al-Naihoum, who had a highly significant literary output. The country was also once home to the popular novelist Ibrahim al-Kawni, who now lives in Switzerland. Other examples include the author Ahmed al-Faqih, and the renowned journalist Mahmoud Shammam. Not to mention a countless number of musicians such as Hamid al-Shaeri and Nasser el-Mezdawi, whilst in the world of sport, Libya can lay claim to the footballer Tarik El Taib, as well as the popular former goalkeeper al-Fitori Rajab. In the economic domain, there was the well known banker Abdullah al-Saudi, amongst others.

In reality, the Libyan regime gradually forged the country into Gaddafi’s character – preoccupying everyone with his intellectual hallucinations, political marvels, odd fashions, obsessions and wondrous fancies. This led Libya and its policies to become a source of laughter and mockery, whilst the Libyan people were experiencing the worst kinds of oppression, tyranny and injustice.

Gaddafi underestimates the world in general, and belittles his own population in particular. He accuses his people of being rats and mercenaries, taking hallucinogenic pills, and being manipulated by al-Qaeda. He considers their fair demands for justice and freedom to be exorbitant, following the many long years they have spent during his dark, sinful era.

It is easy to see why Gaddafi is the subject of comedy – his perplexing decisions, his naïve writings, superficial ideas and senseless acts, all make him a source of humor. However, having destroyed his country’s wealth and killed thousands of his own people, now it is paramount to get rid of him. This demand is no longer a Libyan, Arab, Islamist or African one, but is a global necessity.

Gaddafi today is facing a rapid countdown of the days and hours remaining, until his role comes to an end. No one will be sorry for the departure of such an odd character. The whole of Libya will be liberated from the remains of his bloody regime, and tourists will visit the country in the future, in order to get to know it and its people. They will be able to visit its cities and monuments without fear, worry or panic, and without being forced to worship individuals or leaders like the so-called Brother, Ruler, and the Leader of the Revolution [Muammar Gaddafi], who coined such titles, and believed the lies he manufactured. All that will be left for Gaddafi to do is to ponder the bad memories of his days in charge. His only lasting legacy will be when a restaurant home delivery service adopts his slogan as a marketing strategy: “inch by inch, house by house, room by room, alley by alley” [quoting Gaddafi’s recent speech in Tripoli, Libya]