For nearly two weeks I’ve been watching with excitement and dread as the Libyan people have fought, bled, and died fighting against their dictatorial regime. I feel a special closeness to the people there, even though we’ve never met and mostly differ in language, religion, and skin tone.
A few months ago I wrote an article that got picked up by a couple of African news sources about an alleged massacre at the Abu Salim prison in Libya. In writing the article, I got to meet a number of Libyan ex-pats who were protesting Gaddafi’s human rights abuses. They were conservative and kind, the women covered in cloth but still very warm and open with Westernized onlookers new to their cause.
I was inspired by their compassion for a group of people most of them had never met. They were not personally affected by the massacre, but they were Libyan, and so how could they not spend their Saturdays standing in solidarity? In America we rarely sacrifice a Saturday to stand with oppressed people from our own cities, let alone our home states or our country.
I have no doubt that if and when the Libyan government is overthrown, many of the Libyan protesters on this side of the world will return to their homeland. They will be reunited with loved ones who have survived and join in the efforts to rebuild their nation.
Until then, to all of the Libyans longing for peace, from Tripoli to Tribeca: May your families and friends stay safe through the tragedies and triumphs of revolution, and may your courageous efforts bring you great success, and most importantly, lasting freedom.