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A Response To The Letter By 'libyan Immigrant' Sept 2005

Dear Libyan Immigrant,

Your rhetorical sentiment about the quality of the Libyan people is not something that we have not heard. It is a rather common assessment, one which I will argue has no logical basis. For those who have not read the letter I am responding to, the basic statement was that the Libyan people deserve to have a leader like Gidaffi because they are corrupt, cowardly, and immoral.

While this assessment is simply an unfounded generalization, I am the first to admit that it must have and that it does have some factual basis. Nonetheless, this far-reaching statement only scratches the surface of the greater problem--which is the system superimposed on the Libyan people by Gidaffi. People do not suddenly decide that they want to be corrupt in the face of injustice; such a condition is the product of a constant degradation in the quality of the political life in Libya.

To state the opposite would be to say that the corrupt Libyan people decided to revert their conditions to a unjust one, thus placing Gidaffi in power by means of a grassroots upheaval. Quite frankly to say that is an insult to us, the Libyan people, and to our forefathers, most notably Sheikh El Shuhadah Omar Al Mukhtar, who fought so virtuously for the cause of Libyan freedom. Our fathers formed the basis of our moral tradition in accordance with Islamic principles.

Now back to the point, if our society was generally morally sound in the run up to Gidaffi, did the people deteriorate and place Gidaffi in power by some popular decision? We all know that Gidaffi came to power vis-a-vis a coup d'etat, and that the timing couldn't have been better than during the frustration of the Arab people in the post-1967 era. As Gidaffi consolidated his power in the brutal fashion that he did, the people began to realize that he had no interest in serving Libya. That's when the protests began, and that's when the Gidaffi we know revealed his true form.

The immediate reaction of people when they see people being hung on landposts is obviously not a positive one, and more clearly, one of fear. Libyans were not only afraid for their own lives, but for the lives of their family members. And one death sentences were occurring by virtue of a neo-witch hunt, which was skilfully orchestrated so as to have a brother fearing his brother, you thus have a condition which is the birth of the corruption amongst the people. Every kind of corruption comes from some motivation; not because 'everybody is doing it', but because the basis of the system has no integrity. This did not occur by some popular choice, it was shoved down the throats of the Libyan people by a military dictator.

This basis of fear creates the justification for Gidaffi's elites to take corruption to the next level. If a brother is unwilling to foster his brother because he fears his own life, then what will stop him from embezzling funds that are assigned for people he does not know? Especially when the wages he is supposed to receive or being garnished mysteriously, either by ridiculous bureaucratic deficiencies, or by their money disappearing somewhere in the Central Bank, somehow being assigned to another person's account.

While this is the depressing truth of what Libyan society has become, it has also become the source of an obvious and almost universal sentiment amongst the Libyan people. They know both what I am indicating and what you are generalizing, Mr. Libyan Immigrant, and finally there are good people trying to make a change both at the top and at the grassroots level, both from within Libya and from every corner of the globe. The only obstacle that these people have now is not corruption or fear, but the reluctance of the very people who want something done to do something about it.


A Libyan Student

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