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Gaddafi and the Religious Divide

Gaddafi and the Religious Divide

I was browsing the internet one of the days when my eyes settled on a piece about Libya, the embattled Arab state of Africa where its leader, Col Moummar Gaddafi (in photo) is facing an armed rebellion involving his own people.

Whilst confronting the insurgents, it is increasingly becoming clear that some external actors are stepping up plans to violently oust Gaddafi who has ruled the oil rich country for more than forty years, and who in the eyes of his enemies, has assumed the posture of a dictator.

Those who have been following reports on the net or watching television coverage, it is now clear that there is growing conspiracy towards a regime change in Libya masterminded by the west to force Gaddafi out of power. It has been revealed that “the UK and France are the two countries seeking UN backing to carry out air patrols to prevent Gaddafi’s war planes from bombing civilian settlements” while Obama’s White House is “considering arming the rebel groups” in that country. Obama has gone further to warn that Gaddafi would pay a price for the violence in his country.

In other words, the conspiracy against Gaddafi is being initiated by the UK, France and the US to force him out.

This explains the vicious nature of western hypocrisy. When in recent years Gaddafi reconciled with western powers following his willingness to compensate victims of the 1986 Lockerbie bombing, the west opened its doors to the Libyan leader and resumed diplomatic ties with that country. These countries included France, Germany, Italy, among others.

Today Gaddafi has become the fall guy who must be despised and damned to hell.

Interestingly, most of what is coming out of Libya by way of information is through the western media which refers to Libya as a “country that is falling apart” and in which “people seem to be preparing for some kind of dreadful endgame”.

Whatever that means, the west has already prepared the stage for a violent revolution in that Arab state and wants Gaddafi to take full responsibility for the killings that are taking place there and are threatening him with sanctions and criminal indictment.

On his part, Gaddafi insists that the world media is “twisting the facts” of event in his country and that al Qaeda elements are behind the plot to destroy him and his people.

This plot whether real or imaginary has only strengthen his resolved and determination to push ahead. Some say he has become a confused and demented old man who will stop at nothing to defeat his enemies.

Indeed, the crisis in Libya has generated widespread debate across the world. In some instances, these debates have narrowed down to politics and its impact on religious beliefs with varying interpretation.

In some parts of the world, Gaddafi has been receiving glowing tributes while his country is on fire. In the eyes of those in Africa, particularly south of the Sahara, Gaddafi is the Compassionate, the Merciful, the Good Samaritan, the Charity Giver, Friend of the Poor, Man of the People, etc.

They say when famine struck the Sahelian countries in the 1990s and the 2000s it was Gaddafi who transported truckloads of food and other humanitarian items to those poverty-stricken countries including Mali, Chad, Niger, etc. In Niger, for example, it was Gaddafi who single handedly built and funded a whole university for that country.

Gaddafi, we are informed, remains the principal financier of most organizations in Africa including the continental body, the African Union. He has personally assisted his colleague heads of state, hosting them and giving them money and other gifts.

Why then should Gaddafi fall foul of his people? And why are his people and friends both in Africa and the rest of the world now turning their backs against him?

Here in Sierra Leone, the debate is stretching the imagination of both religious and political pundits. Should Gaddafi go or remain in power? This is the debate in public forums, but as days passed by the arguments assume some dimension that is becoming worrisome; they now carry some strong religious overtones.

Politics aside, there are those members of the public including non-Muslims who believe that Gaddafi has had enough and must go. They say it was Gaddafi who trained the RUF rebels and sponsored their rebellion in the sub-region. Gaddafi, they say, is the bigger terrorist. To this group of Sierra Leoneans, Gaddafi is a wicked man and must be paid back in his own coin. They never saw anything good in the Libyan leader.

On the other hand, there are those, mostly practicing Muslims who openly adore Gaddafi and continue to appreciate his good work in the country and are prepare to stand by him in the face of mounting pressure to quit power. They agree that Gaddafi has held on to power that too long but deserves a respectable exit. They strongly condemn the manner they want him to leave office. They will point to the amount of aid or charity he has offered this country.

They recalled that when in 2002 ex-president Kabbah visited Libya he returned home with a personal cheque of one million dollar from the Libyan leader. The cheque was later converted to state money.

They argued that when our war ended in 2002 it was Gaddafi more than any other African leader who came in strongly to support our post-war recovery programmes. They will refer to shiploads of rice he sent for the poor people of Sierra Leone; the fleet of buses to ease our transportation crisis, not to mention the amount of tractors the Libyan leader sent to this county to improve our agriculture sector.

Above all, supporters of Gaddafi recalled the many mosques that have been erected across the country through his help. This they say will remain as landmarks or legacies that will depict Gaddafi’s contribution to Sierra Leone’s post-war reconstruction efforts.

The debate rages on. Gaddafi’s rebellion is assuming a full-scale war with the west backing the rebels, all in a desperate effort to remove Libyan leader

Sierra Leone on the other hand may have benefited from Gaddafi and in return had conferred on him honourary member of our parliament. But Sierra Leone is not strong enough to help Gaddafi in his hour of need.

Sadly, all we did was to disrobe him of that honour. I am not sure if that was a courageous way to help a friend. The phrase ‘a friend in need is a friend indeed’ is lost to the conscience of Sierra Leoneans. What a friend, indeed!

Sorry, Colonel Gaddafi, Sierra Leone is too poor to help. We can only argue and debate, nothing else.

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