Local Libyan shares his thoughts

Keith Kaczmarek

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For Ben Youssef Mohamed, a student from Libya studying engineering at BC and living with his uncle in Bakersfield, the conflict in Libya is not just a distant war in an unknown country.

His father, mother, and three sisters are still there, and he is afraid to even ask them about events in the area for fear of their phones being tapped by Libyan intelligence agencies, and then his family made the victims of retaliation.

“It’s terrible what Gaddafi is doing,” he said. “I am afraid to even talk to my father. I am afraid that someone will tell someone [else].

“It was normal for me because I was born there. When I came here, I felt the difference. Back then, I knew I couldn’t talk, but it was OK. How could I even breathe then?”

For him, the events in northern Africa are related. “I think we always need democracy. Our country had no democracy, but Egypt had a little,” he said when asked about the influence the recent events in Egypt and Tunisia might have had on Libya. He continued, “After what we saw in Egypt and Tunisia, we thought ‘let’s do it.'”

“The U.S., they helped us and made the UN help us. That is a little too late, but a little late is better than none at all, right?”

His main concern is the loss of life the war might bring. “I really want a democracy, and to stop the number of people being killed. We want a better Libya. We don’t want [the government officials] killed. We want justice and a trial.”

He’s not a fan of Gaddafi. “The one good thing he did with his life is that he made us all hate him.”

Losing the war might be his greatest fear. “He’s going to kill us all. Maybe not in the beginning, he won’t do much. After a few months, after everyone turns around, he’s going to do a massacre.”

He is also concerned about poverty in Libya. “In Libya, if you want to be wealthy, you have to do bad business. If you want to buy a home or a car, you have to be a criminal.”

He is also concerned about American’s confusion about Muslims. “There is a lot of thought that the revolution might make us go Al Qaeda, but there are differences between Muslims and them,” he said, shaking his head at the possibility.

He still has hope for his country. “I think of returning to Libya and seeing the new Libya,” he said.

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