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" A dialogue may be a good thing"
Dear Dr. Ibrahim,

I would like to compliment the great job that you have been doing, keep up the good work.

I have a few thoughts about the recent developments and the meetings that are taking place between representatives of the Libyan authorities and members of the Libyan American community at the UN mission that I would appreciate you posting them in Libyan News and Views. I know that some people are very skeptical when dealing with the Libyan authorities, they certainly have grounds for such skepticism. After all, the human rights track record of the regime is dismal to say the least. Furthermore, the success of the exiled community has been achieved in spite of the regime fighting us every step of the way. However, I would like to offer some points for discussion. I will start with the following proposition: In general, I believe that a dialogue with the authority may be a good thing. Especially, when it seems that the Libyan Americans are not the ones who have initiated such a dialogue. Having said that, I would like to point out the following:

     1) With the grace of Allah and under difficult circumstances the Libyans have established themselves in this country as a viable exile community. We all remember the difficult position we were all in, trying to feed our families, preserve our culture, get an education, support our families in Libya, and establish legal residence. We all know that the regime not only that it didn't help, it actually went out of its way to make it difficult by denying us what was rightfully ours. However, we must look forward and positively engage the authorities to genuinely deal with the outstanding issues.

     2) It is clear that the Libyan authority recognizes the stature that we have attained in this country against unfavorable odds. Al-Hamdulillah, this community is economically prosperous, well educated, responsible, active, and free. I believe that the Libyan authority actually admires that and would like to leverage this to further its aims. We have to use this as a point of strength and engage the Libyan authorities so that the important issues are dealt with seriously and truthfully. While we are used to freedom of expression and exchange of ideas, the Libyan people including the diplomats are not used to such freedoms. No matter what, we CAN NOT and WILL NOT give up our freedom and the right to speak our mind. However, I must caution against making this dialogue the answer to all the Libyan national problems, which in my opinion are chronic and require a political paradigm change which is only in the hand of Qhadafi himself. I believe that the objectives set forth by the Libyan authorities are useful and provide a starting point, (although I have reservations against some of them). The important thing to remember is that they give certain recognition to the Libyan American community. I suppose that I can criticize the stated objectives and the way they were formulated especially, the language used. But, we have to understand that there is a cultural difference that we must all recognized. You have to remember that some of us have been living here for over twenty-five years and are not used to the jargon and style used by the Libyan authorities.

     3) We have to be careful in dealing with the Libyan authorities and have to make it very clear that we will not allow them to politically use us. Remember that we are the last frontier for the iron-fisted regime of Moammer Qhadafi. This is a community whose endorsement of the regime's policies is invaluable. So, we should refrain from issuing any political endorsements or have political rallies in support of the regime. Furthermore, we must be mindful of the proposed group visits to Libya, because these visits are guaranteed to turn into political circus for the regime. However, we should encourage scientific exchanges with the homeland, especially hosting scientists and engineers to come here and obtain training and education. I also want to suggest that special attention be given to the Universities, which have suffered tremendously. We must think of special programs to help the Libyan Scientists and Engineers who have been trapped and isolated in Libya. We should make it clear that while we would like to go back and visit the homeland, this is not the paramount issue at the moment. Also, the issue of passports is mute since most of us have citizenship or permanent residency.

     4) The objectives referred to a newsletter which in my opinion is a good thing, but we must ensure that an independent editorial board be elected and ask that this newsletter expressing the views of the Libyan American community be available inside Libya.

     5) Future meetings need to be advertised in advance and an agreed upon agenda is established. Also, members of the Libyan American community should have the opportunity to give a formal presentation. The proceedings of these meetings should be publicized and posted on the Internet. May I suggest that a special committee be elected that would be responsible for the planning of these get together. In addition, a homepage and a discussion group need to be established where all views and suggestions are welcomed.

These are few thoughts I had on this matter, I will Inshallah send some more in the near future. In closing, I would like to remind everyone that this is quite an accomplishment for the exiled community that is not politically organized and represents an opportunity to advance the national cause forward. We have to think of specific programs to benefit us here and the people of Libya.


Dr. Abdullah Abonamah,
Associate Professor of Computer Science and Computer Science Division Coordinator

Department of Mathematics and Computer Science
The University of Akron, Akron, Ohio 44325-4002
Phone: (330) 972-7191 - FAX: (330) 374-8630
e-mail: abonamah@cs.uakron.edu
Homepage: http://www.cs.uakron.edu/~abonamah

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