Here's to the French who slighted Gadhafi |
By: Dr. Mansour O. El-Kikhia
Here's to the French who slighted Gadhafi
San Antonio Express-News
Web Posted: 12/13/2007 06:29 PM CST
Last week a few of my friends in France were able to create a miracle for me. They convinced a large number of their colleagues in the French Parliament to boycott Col. Moammar Gadhafi's speech, and as a result only about a third of the 80 lawmakers invited to hear the Libyan dictator speak attended.
Another embarrassment to the dictator followed this important snub when the Socialist deputies left their seats for a short time to display their displeasure at not being given the opportunity to question the government on the dictator's visit.
Despite ongoing demonstrations opposing French President Nicolas Sarkozy's policies, Sarkozy is desperately trying to show that he is precisely what France needs if it is to get out of what he described as its economic slump and corruption crisis, as well as attract foreign investment and new business. Therefore, it is not surprising for him to go where the money is. Libya and China are flush with money and in dire need of new technology and markets.
China, in particular, is growing at a 12 percent annual rate with huge surpluses with the United States. China is worried about the recent downturn in demand for its products in the United States and Europe due to shoddy manufacturing. The choice of France as its new advertising agent is a good one and well worth a huge order of European Airbus passenger jets.
Two issues, on the other hand, propel the Libyan dictator. The first is narcissistic. Over the years, his ego has grown many fold and in his own mind he is no longer the insignificant dictator but the world's statesman, the philosopher and humanist. He has convinced himself that he is Nelson Mandela, Mohandas Gandhi, and the Prophet Muhammad combined. And, in this age of the $100 oil market, he has emerged as King Solomon. France offers him the podium along with the pomp and ceremony.
The second issue is to coordinate with Sarkozy a unified position on Africa. Both the French and Gadhafi agree in their opposition to the new American AfricaCom. Neither wants the United States to establish a permanent military presence on the continent. Sarkozy doesn't want to pay for the effort, but Gadhafi can and wants to. He will oppose the United States by proxy, because while the developed world neglected Africa, Gadhafi has, through civil wars and genocide, succeeded in rearranging the African political map to bring to power a not so small number of his stooges. And to seal the deal Gadhafi promised to contribute 10 billion euros to the French treasury in business, which includes the purchase of a nuclear reactor. The question still remains: Who in his right mind would hand over a nuclear reactor to a madman? It can only be someone who is madder.
To Gadhafi and Sarkozy, Libyan and African human rights might be a small cost to pay for such objectives, but that didn't appear to be the case to all French policymakers. I was really surprised to see so many French legislators boycott the Libyan dictator for his miserable human rights record. One of the main reasons we found so much support among French legislators is the 14th anniversary of the kidnapping of the human rights activist Mansour Kikhia, my cousin. He was never released.
Mansour was a Sorbonne graduate, and he used law to defend the defenseless. He was appointed as the last Libyan foreign minister during the monarchy and then became Gadhafi's foreign minister. He also assumed the Libyan ambassadorship to the U.N., where he sponsored the International Year of the Disabled. He broke with Gadhafi twice over the mistreatment of dissidents and the abuse of civil rights in Libya. The last time was permanent.
Mansour soon became the spokesman for Libyan and Palestinian human rights issues and called for democratic rule and an end to dictatorship. According to an Egyptian court looking into his case, he was kidnapped from his hotel by Libyan intelligence in collusion with rogue Egyptian secret service elements during a trip to Egypt to attend a human rights conference organized by the Egyptian government.
He was my blood, my mentor, teacher and friend, and I will always miss him. The French legislators' actions make all that we do for human rights and civil liberties worth the cost.