Ibrahim Ramey: “When Politics becomes Idolatry: The Demise of the Moammar Qaddafi and his Libyan Arab Jamahiriya”

When Politics becomes Idolatry: The Demise of the Moammar Qaddafi and his Libyan Arab Jamahiriya

By Ibrahim Ramey

When I personally met the supreme leader of the Libyan people in June, 1990, the world was a different place, and his unflinching grip on the reins of absolute national power was as close to unshakable as one could imagine.

Colonel Qaddafi was cool, elegantly attired, quite gracious, and also typically incoherent when he appeared, unannounced to a session of a conference in Sirte, Libya, where my friend Greg Payton and I were, as far as we could tell, the only persons from the United States in attendance. Qaddafi, quite interestingly, was making overtures to the global peace and disarmament movement (where I located myself at the time), and more than a few of us benefited from the largess of the Libyan leader and his cronies.

But now, as events clearly show, the construction of the popular Jamahiriya, or “state of the masses” was little more than a front to consolidate power in the hands of one man, whose rule has gone from reckless to crazy to almost genocidal. The Libya of today is deeply submerged in the pit of civil war, and forces loyal to Qaddafi are engaging in an orgy of murder and, reportedly, rape of unarmed demonstrators, all to to keep their leader in power and their juice flowing from the oil wealth that has been expropriated from the Libyan people for decades. This is a bloody struggle, with no clear victor and no clear end in sight.

And it is also a contest that teaches us a bit about the danger of ego worship, and the idolatry (in Arabic, Shirk) that compels people to reject the worship of God and substitute it for the deification of a human being.

In the case of Moammar Qaddafi, I suspect that the deviation from the worship of God was not sudden, but that it happened over time. When he presented himself at the conference where I met him nearly 21 years ago, he interrupted his rambling and extemporaneous talk to go to the mosque next door to pray when we heard the sound of the Athan (call to prayer). He made a point to tell the audience about the importance of prayer as he and his entourage left the room for 30 minutes while his guests stopped everything to wait for his return. I had not taken my declaration of faith in Islam at the time, but I remember how impressed I was that the leader of a nation could demonstrate such piety, especially to a largely non-Muslim conference.

But now, some 21 years later, this “pious” Muslim leader is slaughtering his own people as punishment for their crime of demanding freedom and democracy.

The spiritual lesson that I learn from this is that when individuals abandon God for the worship of a human personality, and the worship of absolute (worldly) power that a dictator possesses, they have committed the most grave of all sins in Islam. Leaders can be mistaken, or corrupt, or even delusional, but when they take for themselves the power of literal life or death to their compatriots, based on nothing more than personal loyalty and submission, they become monstrosities.

God enjoins us, in whatever capacity we find ourselves, to be just and honorable, and compassionate. And when dictators become objects of worship, they become false gods that can destroy a nation.

Qaddafi may well have been a decent Muslim sometime in the past. But now,as the world recoils from the mass killing in the streets of Libya, he is only barely recognized as still human. And those of us who love and worship the One Lord of Creation (Allah) and follow the guidance of His Qur’an, must do all we can to save the people of Libya from the horrible consequence of this worship of the human personality.

About eslkevin

I am a peace educator who has taken time to teach and work in countries such as the USA, Germany, Japan, Nicaragua, Mexico, the UAE, Kuwait, Oman over the past 4 decades.
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6 Responses to Ibrahim Ramey: “When Politics becomes Idolatry: The Demise of the Moammar Qaddafi and his Libyan Arab Jamahiriya”

  1. eslkevin says:

    Subject: Tell Democratic Leadership: Don’t cave to Republican extremists on the budget.
    Dear Friend,

    It’s breathtaking to think that the Republicans would risk a government shutdown because Democrats won’t unilaterally capitulate to their demands for concessions in some of the most intractable ideological wars of our time.

    The Republicans have shown no willingness to compromise on any of their extreme demands — including devastating cuts to Planned Parenthood, NPR, and the EPA — in their version of a “Continuing Resolution,” which must pass by March 4th, to keep the government from shutting down

    If Democrats don’t stand their ground now, Republican demands will only become more radical in the future. But already there are reports that Democrats are trying to cut a backroom deal to meet some of these extremist demands.

    I just signed a petition asking Democratic leaders to stand their ground against Republican extremism. Will you sign too to help make sure they don’t cave?


  2. eslkevin says:

    Tell Democratic Leadership: Don’t cave to Republican extremists on the budget.
    No more weak backroom deals!
    Take action!

    Clicking here will add your name to this petition:

    “Democratic Leadership: Don’t cave and cut a backroom deal with Republican extremists on the budget.”

    Take action now!

    Dear Kevin,

    It’s breathtaking to think that the Republicans would risk a government shutdown because Democrats won’t unilaterally capitulate to their demands for concessions in some of the most intractable ideological wars of our time.

    But last week the House passed and sent to the Senate for consideration an extremist’s wish list under the guise of the “Continuing Resolution.” The Continuing Resolution is a must-pass bill that is necessary to maintain funding for the federal government while Congress debates the 2011 budget.

    Even worse, the Huffington Post reports that Democratic leadership and key Appropriations Committee staffers met yesterday to identify cuts in social spending drastic enough to appease Republican demands for devastating spending reductions.1

    Tell Democratic Leadership: Stand your ground against Republican extremism. Don’t cave and cut a backroom deal on the budget. Click here to automatically sign the petition.

    Democrats must stand their ground. But progressive champions in the Senate won’t be able to fight if their leadership preemptively cuts a deal with Republicans. Unfortunately, such a deal may already be underway.

    If a Continuing Resolution isn’t passed by March 4, the government will shut down. Yet the Republicans have shown no willingness to compromise on any of their extreme demands including devastating cuts to Planned Parenthood, NPR, and the EPA.

    Democrats now have two choices: Stand their ground or cave to this extremism to avoid the government shutdown that Republicans are forcing.

    Tell Democratic Leadership: Stand your ground against Republican extremism. Don’t cave and cut a backroom deal with Republican extremists on the budget. Click here to automatically sign the petition.

    If Democrats continue to cave to Republican extremists, it will only embolden the rightwing to launch even more radical attacks against progressives, because Republicans have learned, when they don’t compromise, they win.

    We’ve seen it in Wisconsin where the Republican governor turned a budget surplus into a deficit with giveaways to corporations and millionaires, and then used the completely predictable budget deficit that resulted to bludgeon the public employee unions and diminish the power of the progressive base in his state. And when Unions offered to take benefit cuts, Walker said no, because his attack isn’t really about balancing budgets, it’s about breaking the public employee unions.

    And now we’re hurtling towards total disaster in Washington D.C., because Republicans are practicing the same tactics, holding the needs of everyday Americans hostage with their threats of forcing a government shutdown. Intoxicated with power and propelled by a Tea Party base, they are willing let the American people twist in the wind if Senate Democrats don’t agree to their increasingly extreme wish list of demands.

    It’s the logical result of a history of caving by Democrats. Time and time again, Republicans have practiced brinkmanship and the Democrats have been the first ones to blink — preemptively caving on a range of issues from climate to the public option to Bush tax cuts for millionaires. Not surprisingly, that behavior has only emboldened the Republicans to raise the stakes even more.

    Tell Sens. Harry Reid, Chuck Schumer, Dick Durban and Pres. Obama: It’s time to stop preemptively caving without a fight. Don’t cut a backroom deal with Republican extremists who are threatening to shut down the government. Click here to automatically sign the petition.

    As you may have noticed, things aren’t working out quite as Governor Walker planned in Wisconsin. And now the politicians in Washington DC should take a page from Wisconsin’s playbook. Tens of thousands of protesters have rallied behind nurses, teachers and other public employees. And the politicians are following the people’s lead with 14 Democrats in the state senate fleeing the state to deny the governor the quorum he needs to pass his radical agenda.

    This is the kind of leadership we need in the U.S. Senate. But according to the Huffington Post, Democratic leadership is already busy caving to Republicans behind closed doors.

    The Continuing Resolution passed by the House is not a serious attempt to address our budget. Republicans have hijacked a bill to fund the operation of government and attached their extremist wish list of cuts meant to serve their personal ideology, not address the real needs of the American people. For example, the Republicans sought to defund Planned Parenthood by denying Title X funding that currently enables millions of women to obtain birth control, cancer screenings, HIV tests, and other lifesaving care.

    And that is just one of any number of deeply unpopular items that the Republicans could never force through the Senate or overcome a presidential veto of without being attached to “must pass” legislation like the Continuing Resolution.

    This is not the end game, it’s just the beginning. The Republicans will have multiple opportunities to hold the budget hostage to their extremist demands. After the Continuing Resolution comes the fight over the debt ceiling and then 2011 budget process starts. Republicans are refusing to negotiate in good faith because they are confident that their utter intransigence will pay off — as it has in practically every single significant fight during the Obama administration. If we don’t draw the line now, Republican demands will only become more radical in these successive fights.

    Tell Sens. Harry Reid, Chuck Schumer, Dick Durban and Pres. Obama: It’s time to stop preemptively caving without a fight. Don’t cut a backroom deal with Republican extremists who are threatening to shut down the government.

    The time is now to draw the line. We can’t continue to let the Republicans hold the needs of the American people hostage to their increasingly extreme rightwing wish list. Wisconsin has shown us what can happen when Democrats fight back. Join us in putting Democratic leadership in the Senate — Sens. Harry Reid, Chuck Schumer and Dick Durbin — and President Obama on notice: Don’t sell us out before we have get the chance to fight.

    Becky Bond, Political Director
    CREDO Action from Working Assets

    1. “Senate Democrats Meet To Find More Cuts For Long-Term Funding Deal With GOP,” The Huffington Post, February 24th, 2011

  3. eslkevin says:

    TRIPOLI, Libya – Libyan Muslim leaders told security forces to stop killing civilians, responding to a spiralling death toll from unrest which threatens veteran leader Muammar Gaddafi’s authority.

    Libyan forces have shot dead dozens of anti-government protesters in the eastern city of Benghazi in the latest violence, according to an Al Jazeera television report.

    The broadcast came after Human Rights Watch said 84 people had already been killed over three days in a fierce security crackdown mounted in response to protests that seek to emulate uprisings in neighbouring Egypt and Tunisia.

    Britain’s Independent on Sunday said the body count in Benghazi, Libya’s second largest city, may be as high as 200.

    “Dozens were killed … We are in the midst of a massacre here,” a witness told Reuters. The man said he helped take victims to hospital in Benghazi.

    Benghazi and the surrounding area have been the focus of the unrest, but posts on social network sites referred to minor clashes in the capital Tripoli and of overnight gunfire in Nalut, to the west.

    Al Jazeera on Sunday reported some security personnel captured by protesters appeared to be foreign mercenaries. Earlier, the channel said security forces fired at mourners at a funeral killing at least 15 people.

    The bloody crackdown prompted about 50 Libyan Muslim religious leaders to issue an appeal, sent to Reuters, for the security forces, as Muslims, to stop the killing.

    “This is an urgent appeal from religious scholars (faqihs and Sufi sheikhs), intellectuals, and clan elders from Tripoli, Bani Walid, Zintan, Jadu, Msalata, Misrata, Zawiah, and other towns and villages of the western area,” said the appeal.

    “We appeal to every Muslim, within the regime or assisting it in any way, to recognize that the killing of innocent human beings is forbidden by our Creator and by His beloved Prophet of Compassion (peace be upon him)… Do NOT kill your brothers and sisters. STOP the massacre NOW!”

    Libya watchers say an Egypt-style nationwide revolt is unlikely because Gaddafi, in power for four decades, has oil cash to smooth over social problems, and is still respected in much of the country.

    Witness accounts have been hard to independently verify because Libyan authorities have not allowed foreign journalists into the country since the protests against Gaddafi erupted and local reporters have been barred from travelling to Benghazi.

    Mobile phone connections have been frequently out of service and Internet service in Libya has been cut off, according to a U.S. company that monitors web traffic. A Benghazi hospital doctor said victims had suffered severe wounds from high-velocity rifles. Comments on social network sites suggested one man was hit by an anti-aircraft missile and a city resident told the BBC that mortars were being used.

    “Gaddafi will find it hard to make concessions in order to survive. I think the attitude of the Libyan regime is that it’s all or nothing,” Sir Richard Dalton, a former British ambassador to Libya, told the Independent on Sunday newspaper.

    ‘Out of control’

    A Benghazi resident said security forces were confined to a compound from which snipers were firing at protesters.

    “Right now, the only military presence in Benghazi is confined to the Command Centre Complex in the city. The rest of the city is liberated,” he said.

    “Thousands and thousands of people have gathered in front of Benghazi’s court house….All of the revolutionary committee (local government) offices and police stations in the city have been burned,” he said.

    The account could not be independently verified and a security source earlier gave a different version, saying the situation in the Benghazi region was “80 percent under control”.

    The private Quryna newspaper, which is based in Benghazi and has been linked to one of Gaddafi’s sons, said 24 people were killed in Benghazi on Friday. It said security forces fired to stop protesters attacking the police headquarters and a military base where weapons were stored.

    “The guards were forced to use bullets,” the paper said.

    Italy’s Ansa news agency quoted an Italian witness in Benghazi as saying the city was “completely out of control”.

    “All the government and institutional buildings and a bank have been burnt, and the rebels have ransacked and destroyed everything. There’s no one on the streets, not even the police,” said the witness, who declined to be identified.

    The government has not released any casualty figures or made any official comment on the violence.

    The violence has been largely concentrated around Benghazi, some 1,000 km (625 miles) east of the capital, where support for Gaddafi has traditionally been weaker than elsewhere.

    In Green Square in the centre of Tripoli, next to the walled old city, several hundred people gathered on Saturday, waving portraits of Gaddafi and chanting “Our revolutionary leader!” and “We follow your path”, a Reuters reporter said.

    A state-controlled newspaper said the violence was part of “the dirty plans and the conspiracies designed by America and Zionism and the traitors of the West.”

  4. eslkevin says:

    Lack of a constitution, lack of safety, lack of trust, plentiful corruption; insert massacres to the list and the result is the Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya (Republic) under Muammar Gaddafi.

    Gaddafi’s illegitimate regime was target for Libya’s “Day of Rage” on Feb. 17, and continues to be at this time. After 42 years of lies, deceit, fear, inconceivable corruption and horrific crimes, the people of Libya had had enough.

    One may question: where does Libya’s struggle begin? Why now? Why is revolution fever so contagious throughout the Middle East?

    Libya’s struggle revolves entirely around the Gaddafi family regime, and their lack of adherence to international law. Muammar Gaddafi claimed power in 1969 and has been the longest-serving ruler of Libya since the Ottoman Empire started in 1551.

    As any Arab ruler born out of the ashes of an oppressing colonial or monarchical past, Gaddafi promised political and social reform. The repulsive effects of these false pledges were felt almost immediately. In 1973, the Gaddafi regime suspended the Libyan constitution, instead delivering verbal proclamations and rulings through the General People’s Committee. Individuals opposing the verbal decrees were sentenced to death.

    On April 7, 1976, Gaddafi licensed “revolutionary committees” to persecute university students opposed to his regime. Students were executed publicly in university courtyards and hung as a reminder to individuals contemplating opposition. April 7 has since been commemorated annually in Libyan universities with arrests and public executions.

    This is the kind of acts of the authoritative, irrational Gaddafi regime.

    The beneficiaries of Gaddafi’s regime were his fellow tribesmen who monopolized the economic sphere and struck business deals with multinational corporations. Bribery and corruption flourished throughout Libya and it became a country manipulated by fear, its citizens not daring to dream of change. That is, until a glimmer of hope was sparked by neighbouring Tunisia and Egypt.

    Years of oppression, fear of persecution and insecurity drove Libyans to demand their fundamental freedoms on Feb. 17. The price of this demand has been paid in blood.

    News reports say an estimated 2,000 Libyans were murdered by hired African mercenaries in Benghazi and 1,000 in Tripoli, and more than 50,000 were injured in all cities combined. Bodies and donated blood have been hijacked from hospitals to be burned and destroyed. Fighter jets using live rounds of ammunition have pounded Libyan protesters, killing hundreds.

    As of late this week, only eastern Libya is reported to have successfully overpowered the battalion responsible for their oppression. Gaddafi has preposterously threatened to use chemical weaponry on protesting masses if they do not desist. Claims such as “the unity of China was more important than those people in Tiananmen Square” and similar outlandish remarks are Gaddafi’s primary means of self-justification.

    It has become evident that Gaddafi’s regime is comparable to, if not more horrifying than, Saddam Hussein’s, which begs the question: why were Western nations adamant about removing Saddam’s regime, yet turn a deaf ear to the cries for freedom from a people suffering under an equally despotic ruler?

    With killing the primary method of combatting protesters, it has become insufficient for the West to merely condemn the irrational actions of Gaddafi. It is imperative that the West play an immediate active role in the removal of Gaddafi. The people of Libya demand justice, democracy, freedom, and the return of the suspended constitution.

    Libya, Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain, and Yemen have all caught revolution fever.

    Some claim that these movements are merely a proxy for Islamist regimes to overtake the Middle East. What critics fail to recognize, however, is that these are not ideological struggles. The plain and undeniable truth is the people of the Middle East have focused their struggle on attaining liberation, fundamental human rights, and prosperity. The sleeping giant has awoken, and will not be pacified until all its rightful demands have been met.

    Hanaa Elkolaly is a London resident.

  5. eslkevin says:

    West must act swiftly to end Gaddafi reign


    By HANAA ELKOLALY, Special to QMI Agency


  6. eslkevin says:

    IN BED WITH QADDAFI: For years, Berlusconi cultivated a close relationship with Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi. Time Magazine assessed that “of all the mutual back-scratching among Europe’s rich democracies and North Africa’s strongmen, Italy’s dependency on Gaddafi stands apart.” The relationship was so cozy that, according to Bloomberg News, “Berlusconi shut down the city’s biggest park in June 2009 to allow the visiting Libyan leader and his entourage of all- female bodyguards to set up camp by the 16th-century Villa Doria Pamphili.” The relationship brought immense economic benefit to both countries. The longest underwater pipeline in the Mediterranean runs from Libya to Italy. “Libya is Italy’s largest supplier of oil, providing for roughly a third of the country’s energy consumption. The dictator’s government owns a substantial share of the Milan stock market. … Libya also provides a critical market for its northern neighbor’s struggling construction firms. And, since 2008, when Italy agreed to invest $5 billion in Libya, Gaddafi has kept a tight grip on the attempts by his citizens and other African migrants to take ships northward on the Mediterranean.” Yet Berlusconi has refused to use this leverage to put significant pressure on Qaddafi. When turmoil erupted in Libya, and Qaddafi’s forces massacred innocent protesters, “Berlusconi was reluctant to criticize his ally. The premier said Feb. 19, four days after anti-government protests began, that he did not want to ‘disturb’ Qaddafi and had not called him,” reports Bloomberg. Piero Fassino, of the opposition Democratic Party, described the Italian government’s response to the bloody repression as one of “deafening silence.” Berlusconi “eventually put out a late-night statement on Feb. 21, in which he condemned the ‘unacceptable’ use of force by the military regime.”

    AN EMBARRASSMENT TO ITALY: Italy is a very important and influential country in world affairs. It has the seventh-largest economy and the ninth-largest defense budget in the world. It is a founding member of the European Union and is a member of vital global forums like the G-8 and G-20. U.S. forces continue to inhabit bases in Italy and nearly 4,000 Italian troops fight in Afghanistan. Now with crises and instability in North Africa and continuing European economic turmoil, the active involvement and leadership of Italy is critical. Instead, Italy will have a leader in power during this time of turmoil that will be busy defending himself against charges of sex-trafficking and patronizing under-age prostitutes. The Economist noted that “the indictment of Mr Berlusconi…will condition Italy’s politics for months to come.” This is an embarrassment. As the struggle to advance women’s rights and to stop sex trafficking continues around the world, the leader of Italy has become a global symbol of misogyny and sexism . A backlash against Berlusconi is growing in Italy. The Economist reported “on February 13th an estimated half a million demonstrators filled squares in Italy and abroad to protest against Mr Berlusconi, his government and, at least implicitly, the extent of gender inequality in Italy.” His close ties with and comments on Qaddafi prompted Democratic Party leader Dario Franceschini to say, “for years he boasted about his special relationship with Qaddafi. … We’d love for him to tap that now and stop the bloodshed.” Reuters reported that “other legislators said they were ‘disgusted’ by the comments and that Italy, as Libya’s closest Western ally, should be taking the lead in condemning violence by Libyan forces to quell the uprising against four decades of Mr Gaddafi rule. One newspaper headlined its story ‘Don’t disturb the slaughterer.'” As New York Times columnist Roger Cohen opined, “In his own way the aging multibillionaire Berlusconi…has aped the manners of the very Arab despots the peoples of Egypt and Tunisia and Libya and Bahrain have risen to oust. Like them he has confused self and nation, entranced by the cult of his personality.”

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