Libyan-Americans have great hope for new leadership

August 22, 2011 (CHICAGO)

Those with ties to Libya see the light at the end of the 40 year tunnel. On Monday, they spoke of the injustice, torture and executions under Gadhafi. They also spoke of plans for a new Libya.

Some Libyan-Americans carry quiet confidence that better days are ahead.

"We are going to build a new Libya, a new democratic Libya where everyone is respected everyone has his own opinion," said Khalie Smeda.

"We are actually working for the future where every human being can have his human rights," said Fathi Fahdli.

"I can't wait for the world at large to see a Muslim state in its reality and see what Libyans can become," said Halema Aduib.

Libyan-Americans and local Islamic leaders cheered the advances of Libyan rebels at a press conference hosted by the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago.

"As much as we were waiting for this moment, we couldn't believe it when it happened," said Sanad Abdalla.

"Today is starting a new dawn in Libya, and hopefully it will be starting a new dawn in the whole Middle East," said Mohamed Aduib.

Some locally held protests supported the rebels and the overthrow of Colonel Gadhafi. For six months they watched the rebels slowly and relentlessly move on Gadhafi strongholds.

For many, Gadhafi is the only Libyan leader they have known in their lifetimes, and they are looking for new democratic leaders to step up.

Khalil Marrar is a political science professor at DePaul University. He says getting rid of Gadhafi isn't the only battle: New leadership will have to step up.

"That's what I fear, that just like the army fractured six months ago, there will be a fragmentation in Libyan society," said Marrar. "We're not seeing unity as one Libya right now."

Political stability in Libya can lead to economic stability in other parts of the world. High oil prices, in part due to the civil war in Libya, have slowed economic recovery.

Faisal Rahman is an economist at Saint Xavier University. Rahman expects this political change to benefit the global economy.

"We are seeing some signs for stability and declining oil prices," Rahman said. "It does good things for everybody. If I spend less money at the gas pump, I have more money to spend on other things."

An official public celebration will be planned once it is certain Gadhafi is out of power.

Until then, some local Libyan-Americans are already seeing changes. Some haven't been able to talk with relatives for fear their lines were tapped by the government. But, in the last 24 hours, they have been able to speak and connect with loved ones in Libya.

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