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The Examiner
Friday, 8 March, 2002

What Price Decency? Death

Publication date: 03/08/2002

The father of San Jose State student Allaedin Ezzedin practices the values he taught his son: empathy, compassion and responsibility, made flesh through friendship, community service and humanitarian deeds. For this, Libya has sentenced him to die.

Ezzedin's dad, Abdallah, was one of those whom Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi used to praise. Abdallah Ahmed Ezzedin spent seven years in Iowa, where Allaedin was born, learning nuclear engineering. He returned to Libya in 1983 to teach his countrymen, helping to bring the country into the future.

But one of the other things he brought back from America made him a target. He observed and was impressed by his friends' commitment to social service, to helping their fellow people who were down on their luck. When he returned to Libya, he carried a new mindset: Part of your life should be spent helping others.

Unfortunately, in Libya's social-revolutionary government, helping others means going underground. There are no government plans to help families in need; it is not part of what Qaddafi's "Green Book" dictates as the government's role.

ABDALLAH Ezzedin joined the underground Libyan Islamic Group, helping families by giving them money, food and medicine. The group is not known to use or advocate violence, but because what it does is not included in the Green Book plan, it's by definition anti-governmental and considered dangerous.

In 1998, he was among 152 of the country's brightest men arrested in a sweep. He has been beaten and tortured, and tried and sentenced to death in closed proceedings. Prisoner rights group Amnesty International was denied access to the proceedings and the travesty of a sentence. It has called on Libyan authorities to withdraw the death sentences of him and a colleague, Salem Abu Hanak.

His family, son Allaedin in San Jose and his mother, two brothers and a sister in Libya, is scared to make the case public -- there often is retaliation for speaking out -- but they fear for their husband and father more.

We need to show some of the compassion and responsibility Allaedin's dad admires so much in us. Write Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer and plead his case. Allaedin's university friends already are writing and e-mailing.

"We are all American," Allaedin Ezzedin says. And we all deserve to live.

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