A look at Libya

Apr 262011
Authors: Andrew Carrera

Malik, a 35-year-old Libya native and 11 year Fort Collins resident, said that Libya’s military seizes cities, unleashes its military and kills its citizens.
“It’s bloody. It’s a massacre,” Malik said.

But he feels differently about the rebels fighting against Libya’s government.
“It’s said to say that it’s a necessary evil,” he said.

Malik, whose last name is withheld in the interest of safety, spoke further on what it was like to be a Libyan in today’s political climate to about 45 individuals attending a “teach-in,” or symposium, titled “Turmoil in North Africa and the Middle East” and hosted by CSU’s Peace and Reconciliation Board.

The event’s exploration into the unpopular nature of the region’s government discouraged CSU international students from speaking about their experiences at home, said Bill Timpson, a professor within the School of Education and founding member of the board.
“There’s a real danger that if they are identified, they will lose their government scholarships,” he said.

The event was the first of its kind to be hosted by the board, which was started by Timpson and other CSU professors in the weeks following Sept. 11, 2001 as a way to generate discussion about nonviolence philosophy. Group member also include students who wanted to know more about recent democratic revolutions in North Africa and the Middle East.

“In the 1960s and ‘70s, anti-war, and civil rights and peace protests were common on college campuses,” Timpson said, “so we have that in our history and then we suggested it to the students, and they said, ‘that’s a great idea.’”

Professors Kris Kodrich, Nathan Citino, Egypt expert Sam Rachid and Malik analyzed the region’s turmoil in terms of its international media coverage, centuries-old history and gave firsthand accounts of what they saw and heard from the front lines of Egypt and Libya when the nations were undergoing democratic upheavals.

“If I had been there one more day, I would have seen Egypt’s step down,” Rachid said. But when he was there, the streets leading into his Cairo apartment complex were blocked off by fellow residents’ cars.

“It was nice because you got a sense of cohesion. But it was still very frightening because people were being murdered in the streets,” he said.

Citino said that the turmoil is partly inspired by the fact that the region’s huge youth population has frustratingly little economic opportunities. He also is wary of politicians’ calls for military action as a blanket solution to any problems one might find in the region.
“There are arguments to be made for human intervention as well,” he said.

Senior Reporter Andrew Carrera can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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