Organizations stand against violence in Libya

Photo by Daniel Heraty

Matthew Stehney (second from left), 26, and his wife, Aneesa Buagelia, both from Ann Arbor, support Libyan citizens at a rally Friday.

Times-Herald Newspapers

DEARBORN — Local Arabic organizations are calling for an end to the violence in Libya and have declared their support for protesters there.

The people of Libya are against military intervention, said Dawud Walid, executive director of Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations-Michigan, at a Feb. 22 press conference at the Islamic Center of America. He said Libyans fear the situation will become similar to Iraq.

What is happening in Libya and other parts of the Middle East should be an eye opener to the United States and cause it to change its foreign policy, Walid said, adding that American officials have looked past the type of people in power there and must listen more closely to the people of those nations.

“The entire region is going through dramatic change right now,” he said. “We need to respect the democratic aspirations of the people.”

Khaled Mattawa, an English professor at the University of Michigan, said the end of the regime is a time of tempered joy.

“There is exhilaration and happiness,” he said, “but people are dying, and that cannot be overlooked.”

There is a real fear that Moammar Gadhafi may not go down easily, Mattawa said, but that when he does, he may not have as much power as he once did, if any at all. The real test will come, he said, when the people begin to put a democracy in place, and that creating a free-standing democracy own will take a long time.

“These countries have been frazzled,” Mattawa said.

A statement released Monday by Arab-American News publisher Osama Siblani, spokesman for the Congress of Arab American Organizations in Michigan, called for an end to the violence committed against the protesters of Gadhafi.

“Gadhafi’s brutal and inhumane tactics include cutting off food, fuel and medical supplies, as well as electricity to revolting cities,” it said. “The regime also cut off most communications to try to make sure the unrest does not spread to other cities.

“Arab Americans stand as one with the Libyan people, knowing full well the conditions under which they have been living.”

The statement also urged U.S. government to take a stand against the violence.

“We call upon the U.S. government to issue a clear and firm statement now that carpet bombing civilians by the Libyan government’s air force will not be allowed,” it said.
Mattawa said the preferred choice for Gadhafi is to face a trial after being removed.

“Whichever way he is captured,” Mattawa said, “he will definitely be charged for crimes against humanity, just on what he’s done the past two days.

“He’s done a lot of damage.”

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