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The Transition From A Tyrannical State To Real Democracy

It is a fact and a very sad state of affairs that there exists amongst us those who seem to be grown-up and some times well educated to have a narrow mind this much to call some one a kafir, to try and shut him up and to call for him to be banned from participating in the Libyan discussion forums just because something he said which they did not like, or sounds different from what they have been led to beleive.

Recently more than one person attacked Mr Fawzi Abdelhamid (The lawyer) (Concerning Mr Fawzi's Article and Are You Really Muslim? ) who expressed his opinion on the subject of Hijab on the pages of “Libya Our Home” website, to which he is entitled to.

I like to read what Mr Fawzi and Azzwari (very little these days) write and I know many people do as well. They write with rare clarity, frankness and openness. I do not necessarily agree with all that they say, but I find them witty, of excellent writing and intellectual abilities and they use logic and common sense, instead of dogma or indoctrination to persuade us to agree with their line of thought.

This is a challenge: How can we accept each other as we are and defend and stand for the right of every fellow citizen to be what he likes to be, to do what he wants to do and to believe in what he wants to believe in, as long as he does not infringe on the liberty of other individuals and/or institutions and their basic rights within the framework of a civilized law.

Judging people for their intensions is not meant to be for us poor humans; rather it is our creator’s job to do that, otherwise there would be no justice in this world and no point of a day of judgment. It is the function of a good and just legal system to try and convict people on physical evidence alone.

We have to argue amongst ourselves with good spirit and intentions if we are to contribute towards the creation of a Libyan culture that is tolerant and respectful. We must talk about all the issues that concern us, no matter how controversial they might seem. And we must open our hearts and minds and be humble enough to accept the truth no matter where it comes from.

And this is where democratic processes, practices and institutions come in. And that is what we at the Forum for Libyan democrats (FLD) intend to work hard for.

In my opinion, what Fawzi and Azzwari are doing is part of the shock therapy that we have to endure today in order to reshape our thinking and to catch up with what we had left behind. There does not seem to be another alternative. The hypocrisy, the deception, the suppression and the silencing will not work any more. Are we prepared to revisit the concepts we hold about our traditions and our apparent values and to re-read our history in a fresh and enlightened manner? Are we really interested in rescuing ourselves and our people from the darkness that we fell into for a very long time? And are we ready and equipped to be part of the process that will lead to the shaping up of our destiny to match our ambitions as a nation and as a race?

The Quran very unequivocally states in the general context (not the specific) what can be translated into: "There is no coercion or compulsion in religion and whoever wants to be a Muslim or otherwise let him have his choice."

This mentality of I know better or I interpret better or my sheikh is better or my mentor is better ....... will do neither these people nor us any good.

Over the centuries and in the whole of the Muslim world, we have been ruled by tyranny one way or another. It is instilled in our culture and state of mind that obedience to the ruler is sacred and his opinion and the sheikh’s is divine. And that is how all our history has been affected. There is no exception, and I challenge you to come up with a period before the 20th century in which a Muslim country had no tyranny, oppression or suppression, since the death of the prophet; or a ruler came to power other than by bequeathing or the sword.

The difference the 19th and 20th centuries made was the accessibility of knowledge to almost the whole of mankind in a big scale and in a relatively short period of time. This had a big impact in maturing the western democracies and the challenging of the authority of the rulers and the authoritarian regimes. It also led to the awakening of the Muslim mind to a certain extent; but the conspiracies of the colonialists and the scale of illiteracy and culture that existed stood as big stumbling blocks against us marching forward to real democracy and freedom.

Let me suggest to the reader something if he or she is in a mood of doing some seriously hard work:

Put the hadiths, the tafasir and all the religious books of the last 1500 years aside and start a fresh reading all of the Quran again as if Allah is talking to you personally. The purpose of this exercise is to try and discover what exactly the overwhelming message you get from the Quran is. You will find that the message is very loud and clear: VALUES, VALUES AND VALUES.... And the principle and most important of all these values are the establishment of JUSTICE and the accountability of the FREE individual.

But that had been distorted so much that most Muslims today are led to trust that ibadat, aqeeda and power (for its own sake) are what Islam is about; and today, the main culprits championing this are the Muslim Brotherhood (Alikhwan) and the salafis and wahhabis!

Of course, you will need a good grasp of the Arabic language and literature to understand what the Quran is saying; otherwise there will be no point of carrying out this exercise.

What will be the difference if gaddafi goes tomorrow and those who criticise Fawsi and Azzwari, or the people like them follow him in power!!!!! There will not be much difference!! I will not say that they will be worse, because I cannot imagine any one will be worse than gaddafi; but believe me the possibility is there, and the Taliban were a very good example!!!

You see getting rid of gaddafi will not be enough to have a decent free and democratic society that can prosper in an atmosphere of love and respect for each other. I know some will say it is a catch 22: you cannot do the 1st until you do 2nd, and visa versa.

But, my god, that will be a very good first step if he goes. Meanwhile and until that happens, lets try and do something useful and constructive by working together to have a good common cause, and to try and expose all those who talk day in and day out about democracy and respect for human rights as a means to an end which is to take power and give us another 30 or so years of repression, lack of democracy and true human rights! I can reveal that I have been there and I have witnessed how and what these people are up to!!!!!

We the Libyans had an excellent opportunity after our independence in 1951 to build and sustain a lasting democratic system in government and a free and prosperous society. But we spoiled it.! There were great efforts exemplified by true Libyans, and King Idris was the first one of them! But unfortunately, we learnt our lessons too late!!!!

It is very fashionable these days to talk about replacing the gaddafi regime with a democratic government that will respect all human rights; and to pose as someone who is fond of democracy and freedom, but if you dig deeper you will discover a completely hidden agenda, something completely different. (In this respect I would suggest to people to re-read the brilliant novels of George Orwell: Animal Farm and 1984)

Let us participate in the real discussion of how to defend our basic rights, how to realise them and how they can be sustained and protected for our future generations.

Let us enlighten our young generation of the successes and failures of our and the previous generations hard work so they can learn from them.

Let us respect our Libyan women as active and equal members of our society and give them the confidence to be full participants in the process of turning Libya into a true democratic and free country.

Let us join together in a sustained media and political campaign to expose the true nature of the gaddafi regime and the suffering of the Libyan people, and to warn those countries that are prolonging the life of the gaddafi regime and sucking-up our natural wealth on the expense of the well being of the Libyan people, that we will not forget what they are doing to us and to our country. At the same time let us try and make friends with those countries and influential international organizations that can understand that it is to every ones advantage for Libya to get rid of this despotic and tyrannical government and the establishment of a free and democratic Libya.

Let us all actively participate in the upcoming event organized by the Forum for Libyan Democrats to be held on Sunday the 1st of February 2004 in London to discuss and debate the obstacles of Transition from a tyrannical state to real Democracy.

Khaeri Aboushagor
(Ex: Oxfordian and Abulkhair)
(Note: All the references to the he in this letter also equally refer to the she)

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