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Please, May I protest!

It was most distressing today to hear from a friend that my name appears as a signatory to a document titled, Towards a New Future for Libya. I have never given any implied or explicit authorization to use my name. As Emil Zola wrote in his masterpiece J’Accuse, without any of his eloquence, I have to let others know the truth “with all the revulsion that an honest man can summon.”

It is a fact that prior to the publishing of that document a principal involved in its drafting contacted me by phone. He informed me that I was selected to be a member of a committee to convene a meeting of Libyans. He also asked that I become a signatory to the document. He followed up with an e-mail (see copy below) in which the authors state, in unambiguous terms and a sign of the computer age, that if I was willing to sign to “please forward your real name in both Arabic and English to this email address: mostakble_libya@hotmail.com”. I believed this was required in order to authenticate the validity of the signatories.

In at least three subsequent phone conversations, with the same person and another of his associates, I again made it clear that I decline to be a signatory to the document. However, I expressed my willingness to accept the committee assignment if it has a limited life span and the clear and singular objective of logistical preparation for a meeting of Libyans where an open discussion of the various views can take place.

In all of my conversations, I tried to make it clear that I base my position, in large part, on my belief that we continue to suffer from politics of personalities and an environment that ascribes undeserving weight to dated political rhetoric, slogans and declarations. It is also, unfortunately, an environment where lack of transparency, supremacy of politics over policy, and absence of clear processes are pervasive. As an example, in a phone conversation with one of the principals, I noted that it makes no sense ,and it certainly not a sign of transparency, for the document authors to, inexplicably; start out by asking others to sign on using real names while they elect to remain largely anonymous.

Let me make it clear that I have, over a period of 28 years, supported and actively advocated through action all of the eight principals listed in the declaration. However, I bear witness, as I am sure many Libyans do, to our recent history where much energy was expanded in the blind pursuit of declarations and slogans to be followed by grief, disappointment, disillusion, inaction, and self-doubt.

Finally, I close by respectfully asking those who, without my express authorization, have put my name to this document that they do whatever they feel is honorable. As for other Libyans, I ask that we all join in rejecting any wrong regardless of who the perpetrators are. I conclude by paraphrasing Martin Luther and say here I stand. I can do no other.

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The following is a copy of the e-mail message accompanying the document
Asalamo Aleykum All,
Attached is a document that represent our vision for the future of our beloved Libya, we hope that all Libyan men and women can rally behind it. We hope that you agree with its principles and ask that you endorse it.
If you are willing to sign it please forward your real name in both Arabic and English to this email address:
mostakble_libya@hotmail.com
Feel free to forward this any Libyan patriot that you know of. Our time line is short , we appreciate your response in the next 3 days.

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Respectfully,

Salah Elbakkoush

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