Open Letter to President Gaddafi

Yesterday ORIENTAL REVIEW received a fundamental exclusive comment on Mu’ummar Qaddafi’s Recollections of My Life from Mr. Iqbal Alimohamed, the former senior UN official who served as the UNHCR Regional Representative in Malaysia, Japan, Australia and the Sudan. We believe this very important document deserves special attention and our journal posts it separately for discussion.

Dear Mr. President,

In 1975, I came to Tripoli as an emissary of the late Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan, then United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to meet with Your Excellency and to personally deliver a message from him. Unfortunately, our meeting did not take place. I was told you were at your desert retreat and could not be disturbed.

I know that you come from a modest Bedouin farming family, but you received a good education, and served in the military including attendance at the Royal Military Academy in Sandhurst, England. You are a devout Muslim, and deeply nationalistic with a strong Pan-Arab aspiration. When you came to power in 1969 in the coup that dethroned King Idris, you put into place a series of reforms that reflected a form of Islamic Socialism you deemed best for your citizens: promoting education, social welfare, moderate personal ideals etc. You sought to set an example to the Islamic and Arab worlds that an Islamic Socialist model of governance was right for Arabs and Muslims. Indeed, your Pan-Arab aspirations for the creation of an African-Arab bloc, regrettably unrealized, was also to create a degree of solidarity among member states to improve the lot of disenfranchised Palestinians in occupied territories and to promote early Palestinian statehood. In the wake of all that you accomplished in the early years of your presidency of the Revolutionary Command Council, your citizens lived in peace with a sense of well-being.

Today, the situation has changed radically.Your own people are in revolt, much of their passion propelled by popular revolt in the Middle East-North Africa region, which has emboldened them to speak out for greater justice, more freedom, and greater respect for their own fundamental human rights. You have heard their voices; quietly, peacefully demanding their legitimate rights. Your regime’s reaction was unacceptable.Your regime unleashed a wave of violent retaliatory attacks with artillery and helicopter gun-ships on men, women, children, the sick and the elderly, clearly tantamount to genocide. This action was certainly far removed from the type of  Islamic Socialism  that you so earnestly espoused when you set out the principles of Direct Popular Democracy in your Green Book. The UN Security Council has recently met several times and so has the Human Rights Council and the Arab League to consider putting into place the harshest possible penal measures against you, besides the sanctions and embargoes already imposed, including the freezing of your personal wealth and assets.

You said last week that you will never give in, but will die as a martyr. You must know that in Islam, a martyr is one who when he dies, even if he is not killed, has stayed loyal to the Divine truth, is ready to fight for it and to defend it at all costs even at the cost of his life. He thus becomes a model of the Divine Message. That message is enshrined in the principle of Tawheed, which is that of the absolute unity of Allah and respect for all His creation, and full submission to His will. Martyrs thus share a special responsibility as models for and towards humanity. No individual can aspire to martyrdom by committing wanton killing as is happening now. You will not die a martyr, Mr President, you will be held accountable on Judgement Day. There is, however, still time for redemption.

Mr President, my sincere advice to you, as one Muslim to another, is that you retire tonight to your desert retreat, listen to the voice of your conscience, try to hear Allah’s voice and seek His guidance. Inshallah, with His Grace, you will be able to take such remedial action as is necessary to prevent further death and needless suffering to your citizens, or to bring further grief upon yourself. I am convinced that, if you do what is right by your people, stop the killing immediately and step down from your power, they may yet forgive you and allow you to spend the rest of your life, in peace with yourself in your beloved dessert retreat. You may then choose to demonstrate to the world through future benevolent and philanthropic actions that you can still be an exemplary leader deserving The Gaddafi International Human Rights Award you created and bestowed, on figures such as Nelson Mandela.

May Allah Almighty, in His infinite Mercy, forgive you, Mr President.

OR Note:
Any reconciliatory initiative should be welcomed in today’s Libya. So we applause the endeavor by Mr. Iqbal Alimohamed despite an offensive situation that happened with him in Libya 36 years ago. Perhaps Colonel Gaddafi regretted that missing as well then…

We think it is up for Libyan people to decide whether their leader (who doesn’t occupy any official post, btw) meets expectations for ‘popular socialism’ or not. Most probably there is no conflict between leader and people in Libya, but there is a competition between different clans for Libyan resources where the people are notably supporting current leadership. Presuming this, we would not put all blame in the conflict on one side when depicting the other as pigeons of peace. The world has already watched the videos of brutal behavior by the rebel forces. So in our view only independent UN Commission on Libya can judge Gaddafi’s regime. As far as Colonel Gaddafi himself is concerned, some day he will inevitably stand in front of Divine trial, but apparently it is not our mission to pressure this ultimate Justice. We can only pray for his salvation and wisdom.

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  1. One thing seems clear: Qaddafi cannot trust any promise or pledge of personal safety from the “international community” or from his Libyan enemies. They will promise anything to make him stand down from power and then they’ll go after him, claiming that the magnitude of his crimes does not allow them to keep their commitments. One is reminded of that line in a Hollywood movie which reflects the morality of today’s world rulers: “I gave you my oath…Well, I lied!”

  2. Qaddafi made two unforgiveable mistakes; 1)he refused to join Sarkozy’s proposed 27-country ‘Mediterranean Group’, allowing NATO to have its bases in Libya, 2) he decided to nationalize the oil sector.

    The protests in Libya are not public-rooted like the ones in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen and Bahrain. They’re the rebels trained and armed by the US, French, British and Israeli intelligence agencies. The proof is that the anti-Qaddafi alliance, the ‘Popular Front for the Liberation of Libya’ – has already cut a deal with Paris to give 35% of Libyan oil reserves to French companies……

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