With Gaddafi gone, everyday is brighter says Libyan-Canadian
Libyans in Halifax rallied and carried out a dozen protests during the Libyan crisis. Some of us also went to the demonstrations in Ottawa and protested in front of the Libyan embassy. Libyan-Canadians even flew back to fight for their freedom, says Fathi Ghanai, a Libyan who came to Canada to study in 1982.
“Gaddafi was not only a problem for Libya, but for the world,” he says. “He was unpredictable and dangerous and armed to the teeth. He ran a mafia-style cartel and anybody not in that circle felt threatened.”
This is now a period of reconciliation and reconstruction, he says. Right now in Libya there are weapons everywhere—because of the lack of trust and insecurity of 32 years.
But Ghanai says that in Canada, it’s difficult to sense how Libyans feel about the old regime. “I would have thought Libya would be a ball of fire after the revolution. But we do not see the crime and brutality that’s common in a post-revolution situation. I am amazed at the way life is unfolding in Libya.”
Most Libyans welcomed foreign intervention without boots on the ground, he says. “When the Charlottetown mission came home, the Libyans were the first to welcome them. And we gave Canadian troops a plaque of appreciation.”
At this time, the interim government is working on a constitution and preparing for fall elections.
Ghanai says Gaddafi was hated because of his sense of injustice. He ruled with an iron fist, ran a gangster/mafia-style cartel. He supported gangsters in South America, Europe and oil money was siphoned elsewhere.
“He was eccentric and unpredictable and that is why nobody wanted to invest in Libya. No one was sure what he would do next. He was a megalomaniac.”
Apparently, there is no extreme poverty in Libya, but there was the lack of security, trust and stability in the country. “The optimism of the Libyan people amazes me,” Ghanai says. “People said the Arab Spring would not unfold in Libya. But the heroism I have seen is unbelievable. The fact that Libyan Canadians went back during the war to fight for Libya gives me hope that things will get brighter. After Gaddafi has gone, every day is brighter. People are talking about all issues—this was unthinkable before.”
Ghanai came to Canada in 1982 to study engineering and later decided to settle down in Halifax. He is the current President of the Maritime Libyan Association which comprises more than 30 community individuals plus students. “When we hold a community gathering we can expect some 100 people at least,” he says.
The community recently celebrated Revolution Day on February 17—that was the day Libyans rose to bring down Gaddafi. The celebration was hosted in honour of those who fought for Libya’s freedom.
In Canada, Ghanai is a free man. “I teach my kids the values of Godly living. I urge them to think for themselves, follow their principles and values which are to love your neighbor and be compassionate to all.