Trying to understand the history of Libya

The more that I am learning about the nature of Libyans in Benghazi and in Tripoli, the more I see that there are many people who have no real understanding of a people who have been deprived of their liberty for the past 42 years. We in the West, and especially those of us who are Christian, need to be more charitable and we need to ensure that we are not making broad brush assumptions about people who were raised within Islam. To be honest, anyone who has an expection that Libya will not remain an Islamic State in some way is dreaming. The modern Libya is an Islamic State, but the people who wanted to throw off the shackles of the slavery of Gadhafi want to establish a western style democracy. It is not being honest to assume that democracy in Libya equals a non-Islamic State.

Islamic states in the Middle East have the reputation of being totalitarian. That is the case in Iran, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and a number of other countries, including Syria. It needs to be pointed out that Iran supports Syria and is keen to spread its form of totalitarianism. I have not had much to say about the conflict in Syria because I have yet to understand the nature of those who are in rebellion. I suspect that they are Islamists who simply want a different form of Islamism. Neither have I said much about Egypt, but I will say that if the Muslim Brotherhood gains power in Egypt then it is more likely that there will be a shift towards Iran, and away from co-operating with wesern powers.

For the past 42 years Libya has experience totalitarianism that has been a mixture of Socialism plus Islam. Many of the young professional Libyans have experienced western style democracy. Many older Libyans remembered the Libya that existed under the pro-west monarchy government of king Idris. These Libyans wanted to throw off the yoke of totalitarianism. Is it likely that they would then accept a mantle of Islamism that would see them take on yet another form of totalitarianism, but this time with the mullahs in charge? Actually, I do not know the answer to that question. The reason that I do not know the answer is that I have not seen anything that indicates that the mullahs have been the impetus behind the rebellion, even though there are imams who played a very important role in the fall of Tripoli.

The news reports from Tripoli do provide some insight into the nature of some of the people of Libya. I see pictures of Libyans who I would term as Islamists, based upon their beards, but those pictures conveyed an agony borne out of the war that has been raging. One such picture was that of a father whose son was killed by a sniper’s bullet. His face showed the agony of his loss. I do not know what is in that man’s heart when it comes to his more religious views. Then there is dealing with the reports that these people like to shout “God is great”, but I try to look at the context of such shouting. Are they doing it in the same way as some jihadi who is anti-western? Or are they shouting for some other reason? An illustration of my point on context is the story of a young doctor who was shot by a Daffy goon sniper. The journalist who witnessed the scene stated that he saw the Daffy goon standing over the doctor, demanding that he acknowledge Daffy Duck as leader, but the good doctor simply stated God is Greatest. The context of this statement is that the doctor would not recognize Daffy Duck to the point of elevating this dictator above God. The doctor was not making some anti-western declatory statement. The Daffy goon shot and killed the doctor.

Context is everything in this particular instance, and one should not be surprised or be upset to learn that Libyans poured out of the mosque in Tripol, intent upon having a “parade” whilst shouting “God is great”. In the same circumstances a Christian would be shouting “Alleluia”. The people were expressing their belief in God who had freed them from the dictator Gadhafi. They were processing in freedom and expressing that joy that comes from such freedom after 42 years of repression.

The history of Libya is one that indicates a country that had previously freed itself from the colonial rulers Italy, and being guided by the pro-western king Idris. Gadhafi had taken Libya from this pro-western country to one that was a sponsor of terrorism. In understanding this one point, it is easier to come to terms with at least some on the NTC who want a return to the pro-western days of king Idris. Gadhafi had not allowed Libyans to form a proper government, it was a rule from the top down. This explains why the NTC want to form a western style government. The young professionals in Libya have already had a taste of the Westminster style of democracy,so it will be interesting to see the kind of government that they form.

With the impending defeat and arrest of Moammar Gadhafi and his family, Libya is on the cusp of a big change. We can at least hope that the change will be for the better, rather than a change that will further enslave the people within Islamism.



About Aussie

Married with children. Bachelor of Economics and Commerce, Melb 1975
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