Mu’ammar al-Qadhdhāfī: The venom of the past taints the present


 Today, there are 57 dictatorships in the world. Modern-day tyrants persecute religious groups, rule the nation with military dominance, and engage in corruption that goes as far as enlisting child soldiers. It is important that we realize dictatorships have not ended yet in our world. 

One tyrant in particular is former Libyan dictator and military colonel of the Libyan Armed Forces, Mu’ammar al-Qadhdhāfī (circa 1969-2011). His legacy includes the bombings of civilian groups and genocide. Qadhdhāfī is regarded in the history books as the former Chairperson of the African Union. Qadhdhāfī’s corruption is important because tyrants still exist in 2022. While Qadhdhāfī was a modern dictator, his impacts were devastating on Libya.

Mu’ammar al-Qadhdhāfī came to power in Libya via a classic coup d’état in 1969. As the country’s leader, he imposed religious segregation of the Libyan people, executed those who did not support his beliefs, and formed a radicalized government which supported radical Islamic militias. This made Libya a socialist nation and at the time North Africa’s first, if not largest, led by totalitarian rule. Because of Qadhdhāfī’s actions, Libya is still facing a poor per capita income. To be able to fully conceptualize the iron fist of Qadhdhāfī’s rule, one must first understand his exclusion of non-Islamic religions. The dictator isolated Roman-Catholicism and Judaism from Libya. He exiled the native Italian and Jewish communities from Libya during the 1970s. Journalist Salah Sarr in the Reuters article says,  “Gaddafi says only Islam is a universal religion.’’ 

The interview conducted by Mr. Sarr concentrated on Qadhdhāfī’s views of the “correct’’ religion that all people should follow. “Christianity is not a faith for people in Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Americas, other people who are not sons of Israel have nothing to do with that religion,” Qadhdhāfī stated boldly and sternly. Most of Mu’ammar al-Qadhdāfī’s religious theories are derived from radical interpretations of the Qur’an, the Islamic holy book. The dangers of this religious persecution led to the exile of 37,000 Jews and 20,000 Roman-Catholics out of Libya. The danger of the persecution contributed to the revolts carried out by the Libyan people  to overthrow Qadhdhāfī.

Mu’ammar al-Qadhdhāfī remains relevant, as we can compare his persecution of political dissidents and public killings of innocent people to the actions of presidents and insurgency organizations in the world today. Like Qadhdhāfī, President Abdel Fattah Saeed Hussein Khalil el-Sisi, the current-day president of Egypt and military colonel of the Egyptian Armed Forces, has handled demonstrations of his people with military intervention. He has been accused of indefinite detention, asset confiscation, and torture of journalists. El-Sisi and Qadhdhāfī are similar as they persecuted religious minority groups and represented their nations with anti-capitalist sentiments.

It is important that we consider Mu’ammar al-Qadhdhāfī, one of the most horrific tyrants of all time, as his historical relevance to the world of religious persecution and torture of the Qadhdhāfī’s modern-world relevance to society in that his presidency symbolizes corruption in government and lack of free will to the people. We must remember the mass genocide of innocent Libyans and the torture of innocent Libyans in concentration camps. Qadhdhāfī killed 7,500 Libyans, 1,000 Chadians, and in the 1977 Libyan-Egyptian War, 400 Libyans and 100 Egyptians. What’s more, in the The Daily Beast article, “Inside Muammar Gaddafi’s Libyan Torture Prisons,’’ by journalist Babak Dehghanpisheh, it provides an account of one 32-year old Libyan prisoner, Mahmoud al Kish, who was held in a Libyan detention center in central Tripoli for 11 months in 2003. “During the first week of his detention, he was handcuffed to a staircase handrail and security thugs punched him and kicked him each time they walked by,’’ Mr. Dehghanpisheh wrote. 

According to “BBC: Gaddafi rule marked by abuses, rights groups say student demonstrations were put down violently,’’ he especially targeted lawyers, journalists, Trotskyists, or those affiliated with the Marxist-Leninist ideology. “They were cowards, rats, traitors, and mercenaries who were serving Lucifer,’’ Qadhdhāfī remarked. 

Lastly, Mu’ammar al-Qadhdhāfī supported the development of Libya’s biological weapons and nuclear arms to be used against the western world. According to U.S. Air Force Commander, Craig Black, author of the article, “Deterring Libya the strategic culture of Muammar Qaddafi,’’ the dictator supported insurgency organizations inside Libya such as the Ansar al Sharia to support his regime. These actions led to the many assassination conspiracies placed on the Libyan dictator. 

Qadhdhāfī even murdered one of his family members when his position was at stake. He ordered that his cousin Hassan Ishkal be executed, as he no longer supported the dictator’s motives. Due to Qadhdhāfī’s actions, this subsequently led to his growing selfishness. Moreover, the vast amount of money that Qadhdhāfī acquired was utilized to support the spread of worldwuide terrorism, and for Libya’s chemical weapons of mass destruction (WMDs). “The second WMD strategy would be to defeat the U.S. at home,’’ Commander Black stated. “High U.S. and Allied casualties caused by WMD attack, or merely the fear of high casualties, could damage U.S. public support of the war effort.’’ As Qadhdhāfī built the military structure of Libya, he used much of the nation’s funds to invest in the armed forces, and confidential research into nuclear arms, leading to several classified government projects.

In an interview conducted by journalist Christiane Amanpour for the ABCNews article, “My People Love Me’’: Muammar Gaddafi Denies Demonstrations Against Him Anywhere in Libya,’’ the dictator was calm as he spoke of his actions in protecting his country. “They love me, all my people with me, they love me,’’ Qadhdhāfī said. “They will die to protect me, my people.’’ Through this interview, we see that Mu’ammar al-Qadhdhāfī lived in denial as a leader, confusing the views of his people with his own. Qadhdhāfī was not the people-person his people believed he would be, and he utilized the resources of Libya for his own personal gain. .

In the end, Mu’ammar al-Qadhdhāfī was one of the cruelest dictators in mankind. He slaughtered protesters and forced religious groups out of Libya to keep himself in power. More than 10 years after his death, Qadhdhāfī remains a symbol of political evil in government. Mu’ammar al- Qadhdhāfī’s actions symbolize that dictatorships still exist which means many rulers will leave their own page in the history books.