Photos: Local Libyans insist democracy is coming after fall of Moammar Gadhafi

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      Libyans from across the Lower Mainland gathered at Library Square in downtown Vancouver to celebrate the arrival of rebel forces into Tripoli.

      As a crowd of about 25 people hooted, hollered, and sang, there seemed to be no doubt in their minds that they were seeing the end of Col. Moammar Gadhafi, who has ruled their country with an iron fist for 42 years.

      "This is probably the most important day for this generation of Libyans," psychologist Rahim Hewaidi told the Georgia Straight. "We think that NATO, including Canada, played a very, very important role in the history of Libya and in preventing a sure genocide from occurring. Right now, we're just overwhelmed with happiness."

      Hewaidi, a Canadian citizen, said he has lived in this country for seven years. He thanked Vancouverites and Canadians across the country for supporting the revolution against a dictator whom he characterized as a "pure psychopath".

      "Most of us—if not all of us—were forced into exile because of the brutality of the Libyan regime," he declared. "That was Gadhafi. Hundreds of thousands were forced out of Libya....They were deprived of their basic human rights, so they have gone into diaspora all over the world. Canada has been one of the welcoming countries for us."

      Hewaidi also called Gadhafi a "criminal", and said it's an insult to people with emotional or mental illnesses to suggest that the dictator was suffering from mental illness.

      "He hates his people," the psychologist stated. "He is the only leader of a country that we know who declared a war against people of his own country."

      Sitting beside him, Surrey dentist Dr. Gheith Ben-Khaial summed up his feelings with two words: really joyful.

      "I cried," he admitted. "It's unbelievable."

      Ben-Khaial told the Straight that he hasn't returned to his home country since moving here in 1986. "My kids were born and raised here in Canada," he pointed out. "They know nothing about Libya."

      He credited social media and various networks—including Al Jazeera, CNN, and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation—for helping keep the Libyan revolution in the spotlight.

      "Those guys back home, they are so brave," Ben-Khaial said of the rebels. "I couldn't believe what they did."

      Another local Libyan, Ali Kubti, told the Straight that he was in Benghazi at the start of the revolution. Before NATO's intervention, which primarily consisted of aerial bombing, Gadhafi was threatening to launch an air campaign against the city.

      "It was a very scary experience," Kubti recalled.

      He accused Gadhafi of stealing the country's wealth and spending it on arms and ammunition. "He has killed my nephew," Kubti revealed. "He hanged him. He killed my brother-in-law. He imprisoned another nephew. He imprisoned my brother. Every family has a story to tell."

      All three men insisted that Libya will become a democracy. Hewaidi said that more than 30,000 people paid for this with their blood.

      "We will never forget them," he emphasized.

      Kubti made a point of declaring that this was a people's revolution against the dictatorship and had nothing to do with Islamic terrorism or al-Qaeda. The other two nodded their heads in agreement.

      "Thank you Canada for supporting the Libyan people to reach this day," Kubti said.

      The photos above suggest that he wasn't alone with that sentiment.

      Comments

      6 Comments

      Mr Nogatco

      Aug 22, 2011 at 3:28am

      So three guys "insist" democracy is coming to Libya after Gaddafi is taken out. Well if they say so it must be true.

      The fact that nobody seems to know who the rebels are and where their true allegiances lie is just a trivial matter. NATO in all its humanitarian glory has been bombing Libya daily for how many months now - destroying infrastructure and killing people (only the really, really bad ones of course) - so that's all good.

      Yup, democracy is only an execution away.

      Back to reality...
      Anyone who seriously believes democracy will miraculously flourish in Libya after Gaddafi's departure is seriously deluded. The world doesn't work that way.

      A few guys saying "Gaddafi is evil we hate him. Thanks, Canada for bombing the old country because Gaddafi is evil. Did we mention that Gaddafi is a bastard and we hate him?" and two pages of pictures of them waving flags while their female relations make a few hand gestures and look dutifully on.

      This article comes across as a puff piece that makes no real point.

      Also this:
      "Kubti made a point of declaring that this was a people's revolution against the dictatorship and had nothing to do with Islamic terrorism or al-Qaeda. The other two nodded their heads in agreement."

      How does he know this? What or who are his sources? Did anybody even ask him? One guy claiming he knows this is a "people's revolution" and his two buddies nodding in agreement. That's pretty weak stuff. A high school cub reporter could do better.

      There are plenty of good quality pieces written by Straight columnists and contributers. Focusing on quality over quantity makes more sense than pumping out poor quality articles just to fill space or increase ad revenue.

      Charlie Smith

      Aug 22, 2011 at 8:14am

      Mr. Nogatco,

      I decided to go to Library Square to talk to Libyans about the revolution. I was fortunate to find three exceptionally intelligent and articulate men who were ecstatic that a dictator who had terrorized their country for 42 years was about to be tossed out of power.

      I think people in our city deserve to hear what they have to say after all the suffering that they and their families have endured for so many years. You might disagree with them, but I wouldn't characterize this as trying to fill space or increase ad revenue. I did this on a Sunday night when I could have very easily stayed home and watched 60 MInutes or some forgettable sports match on television.

      This was a historic event for the local Libyans and I wanted to bring their voices and their joy to a larger audience. If you're offended by that, you've been given the space to condemn me for doing this.

      Charlie Smith

      George Drason

      Aug 24, 2011 at 3:54pm

      I totally agree with Mr. Smith. I lived in Libya for 3 years, working for the oil industry. Life under Gaddafi rule was hell for Libyans. These people deservr to be happy to get rid of that dictator and that's why most countries and peoples of the world stood by them. As far as Mr. Nogatco's comments, I doubt if he even knows where Libya is let alone how and who and why the Libyans had the revolution !!!

      Bob litewood

      Aug 24, 2011 at 4:01pm

      The whole world is happy to get rid of Gaddafi. Congratulations to the Libyan people, you have inspired every freedom seeking human.

      15 9Rating: +6

      Noor

      Aug 25, 2011 at 6:33pm

      That's the most ridiculous argument I've heard so far. What, you think everything that appeared on TV is acting? You think those millions of people out chanting in the streets proudly in celebration are fake? You think the numbers of martyrs who died for their country are made up?

      That is such a disrespectful and ignorant comment to make. Of course we have direct sources. I was talking to my aunt yesterday, she was ecstatic because her son of 20 years old was finally released and safe at home after being captured in Boo Sileem prison for over 2 months. This is a people's uprising. I know because I personally am a Libyan that is a part of this revolution. Also, my uncle from Benghazi is one of the doctors who treat the wounded freedom fighters from city to city. His team moved into Tripoli just yesterday morning,

      Of course, we do not expect democracy to fall out of the sky when Gaddafi is overthrown. It will take a lot of time, a lot of effort, much like many other revolutions. But the courageous people of Libya, those young and those old, those behind the fighting lines and in front of them, have proven to Gaddafi and to the world that they will readily give their lives for the sake of Libya.

      Hearing you say such hateful things is a slap in the face for the thousands and thousands who have sacrificed and endured and suffered for the betterment of their nation. Please, do not undermine their efforts just as an excuse to condemn Islam.

      Noor

      Aug 25, 2011 at 6:43pm

      dddd

      18 8Rating: +10