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Opinion: Has Saif Al-Islam Gone Mad? - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Some Libyan social networking websites have claimed that Muammar Gaddafi’s son, Saif Al-Islam, who is being tried by the rebels in Zintan, has gone insane. According to these websites, doctors have confirmed that living under a constant state of pressure can result in a neurological condition resulting in brain death.

According to the Donia Al-Watan news website, a Libyan doctor—speaking on the condition of anonymity—explained that this condition is incurable.

Personally, I do not find Saif Al-Islam’s “hysteria” that surprising; nor do I believe he is faking. I truly think that Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi is suffering from the early stages of this disease.

It is not surprising that people in Saif Al-Islam’s position lose their minds, especially after he got to grips with his fate, not to mention the fate of his family. Had he initially shown good judgment and discretion—even amid his claims that there was a global conspiracy against his father’s regime—rather than attempting to demonstrate bravery, Saif Al-Islam would have been much better off. However what happened, happened.

I find it strange how some of those in power firmly stand up to enormous challenges and risks not out of determination, bravery and sound reasoning but rather based on meaningless stubbornness. This is an attitude that is devoid of vision and reasoning; it is similar to when camels, and other livestock animals, balk without warning.

In our culture we glorify persistence. To be fair persistence—as a human quality—undoubtedly deserves praise, especially in comparison with other human qualities like capriciousness. Without an opinion or an idea to believe in, man will be driven by short-term, base and material interests. However, if persistence means standing in front of a speeding train, this will bring nothing but disaster. In fact, this is the very definition of tragedy.

Perhaps one of the reasons why Iraq is what it is today is that Saddam Hussein showed absolute persistence. Yes, Saddam was courageous and determined; the scene of his execution is proof enough of that. However, what was the point of Saddam’s persistence if his policies led to the destruction of Iraq, brought about the climate for its invasion, ruined its citizens’ lives, isolated it from the rest of the world and entrenched sectarianism?

Well-known Arab poet Al-Mutanabbi wrote:

Courage to reason second place must take
For valor should not balance judgment shake
But if both in a hard soul united are
Then Glory’s realms their own demesne shall make.

Mshari Al-Zaydi

Mshari Al-Zaydi

Mshari Al-Zaydi is a Saudi journalist and expert on Islamic movements and Islamic fundamentalism, as well as on Saudi affairs. He is Asharq Al-Awsat’s opinion page editor. Mr. Zaydi has worked for the local Saudi press, and has been a guest on numerous news and current affairs programs as an expert on Islamic extremism.

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