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DEMOCRACY FIRST!

In all practicality, our primary national priority today is to overthrow tyranny and establish democracy. Our number one priority should not be hindered by the urge to splinter into ethnic factions all searching for their separate sovereignty. The Libyan people as a whole should focus on the one goal that must precede all others: planting the seeds of democracy in a land ravaged by tyranny, and then making that democracy grow in the minds and hearts of the Libyan people as a whole.

We should not distract ourselves with questions about what percentage of the population is Amazigh and what percentage is Arabic, Turkish, Twaregh or from other regions like the Balkans, the Caucasus, etc. We are all Libyans and most of us are the result of a mixture of ethnicities. We say we are Arabic not because we know with absolute certainty that our blood is 100% Arabic. We say we are Arabic because we speak the Arabic language. The issue of separate ethnicity is fractious, not unifying. Wasting time on this issue will only complicate and hinder our struggle to achieve a free, democratic society.

Establishing democracy requires that we think of ourselves as Libyan first and foremost. We should question and reject the continuation of a society that is strictly patriarchal, strictly tribal, or strictly regional. Democracy requires equality for everyone.

Moreover, it is not our highest national priority to discuss the details of a Libyan development program before democracy has even been achieved. Without a well-established free, democratic society, no real development will be possible. At the proper time, discussion of these things will become necessary and appropriate.

For more than 31 years the Libyan people have suffered the systematic destruction of their resources and infrastructure. They have endured human degradation. They are overburdened more than they can tolerate. There is no way they will accept another despotic system again after Qaddafi--under any slogan or under any political or religious pretenses or circumstances. I am confident that the Libyan people have learned their lesson, and that they will enforce building the proper foundation to achieve a democratic system immediately after Qaddafi is deposed.

A democratic system allows the people to participate in the decision-making process that affects their standard of living and indeed their very livelihood. However, democracy by itself is not our goal. Democracy is a tool to facilitate our search for solutions to our problems before they accumulate to the point of exploding. Democracy is merely the most scientific, civilized method yet discovered by humankind to solve our mutual problems in an equitable way.

All of the instruments of a democratic system--a multi party system, elections, an independent judicial system, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, etc.--will be useless if the people are not committed to the human values that undergird such institutions. We should nourish our children with these democratic values. We should raise them in an environment where they can learn and inculcate the sense of duty and sacrifice for a public cause. We should teach our children to love their country like they love their families. We should teach them to manifest consideration for the rights and concerns of others, to show consideration for the life and property of others. They should be taught to show the same consideration for public property. We should teach our children to respect the opinions of others, and to accept criticism. We should also teach our children to admit wrongdoing. We should teach them honesty. When they work they should not cheat. We should teach them to stand up for the oppressed. We should teach them to help the needy. We should teach them to achieve a wise balance between self-interest and public interest. All these human values comprise the soul of a civilized society, of a democratic system. It is our duty to teach our children these things. The society that teaches its children these values will be giving them a solid foundation for the principles which will defend and enforce a way of life and behavior that evolves into a political system with the force of constitutional law. If we teach society in this manner, then we will ensure that no arrogant tyrant will ever again toy with our destiny.

The main priority for Libyans is to prepare ourselves for establishing a democratic society based on these ideals. If these values are well established, then no dictator will be able to wrest power by subterfuge or by pretending to embrace democratic ideals. As we all know, Qaddafi did not come to power as a dictator. He came to power by deceiving us. Then he gradually tightened the noose around our necks. This should not happen again.

These precepts represent the most practical plan for Libya's revival as a civilized nation. Without a democratic system, no development program can be accomplished and no details of such a program can even be discussed with any intelligence. Without liberty, democracy and human rights, nothing can be accomplished. A human being forced to live without dignity has the life of an animal and can barely even contemplate the higher values that create a civilized society. Establishment of democracy is primary; all other issues are secondary.

I salute the struggle of the Libyan people against oppression!

Happy Eid! I hope next Eid we will find ourselves closer to our goal than we are today.

Masaud Buker

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