Libyan crisis reaches the bluegrass: Students, Lexington show support with rally



By Drew Teague

Hundreds rallied outside the Fayette Circuit Courthouse on Tuesday to support the current uprising against the government of Libya.

The demonstration was put together by UK student Luebab Ahmed, a psychology and business sophomore, and his mother, Wafa Nashnoush, to show support to their relatives and other fellow Libyans.

“(This rally) was sparked from what’s going on there,” Ahmed said. “It’s difficult to sit back and know that you have family members that are just being slaughtered in the streets and I’m in the comforts of home … I wish I could go there right now, but I can’t.”

Ahmed said helping put on the protest was really close to his heart because of his father’s past actions and the current actions of his family in Libya.

“It means a whole lot to me because this situation isn’t something that has been new to me. It’s not something that we’re just now experiencing,” Ahmed said. “Specifically, in my past my father had taken action into his own hands when he was in college, and because of doing that he was imprisoned, tortured and then managed to escape. That’s when we immigrated to the United States.”

His mother, Nashnoush said she loves her home country of Libya, but did not realize Ahmed had the same feelings until recently.

“I was really proud of Luebab, I was sad that I had more feelings towards my home country, but Luebab proved to me that he has as much belonging and feeling as I have,” Nashnoush said.

With a crowd of around 80 people in attendance, Ahmed handed out signs for the attendees to hold, and spoke about the problems in Libya as well as getting rid of Libyan President Muammar Gaddafi. Many protestors brought the old Libyan flag to wear or wave around.

Mariam Addaret, a fellow protester began with a speech about why they were gathered today.

“We felt compelled to make a stand and give a voice to the Libyan people, since they don’t have one,” Addaret said. “For over 40 years, Muammar Gaddafi has consistently demonstrated a flagrant disregard for the right of Libyan citizens to live in peace and dignity. He has shown the world he wouldn’t bat an eyelash at killing the entire Libyan nation as long as he can keep his power. The people of Libya are paying the ultimate price for freedom, they are sacrificing their lives so that others can live with dignity.”

Suleiman Darrat, a professor of Islamic studies and a native of Libya, has been in the U.S. for about 26 years and said he feels that the protest gives those young people who have never been to their homeland a strong connection to their roots.

“Keep in mind that all these young people you see here are born and raised in Lexington, in Kentucky,” Darrat said. “Many of them never went home, could not go home because of their situations of their parents, but still their connections to the homeland of their parents is so strong that they feel that they want to bring to their homeland of their parents the same values that they want to enjoy here.”

Darrat led the group in singing the nation’s old national anthem “Libya, Libya, Libya.”

There also were Egyptian-Americans at the rally and others supporting the Libyan people in their fight for freedom.

“Luebab (Ahmed) came in and told us about all his family members who are still in Libya and it really made me cry,” Tyler Miller, an undecided freshman minoring in Arabic studies said. “It made me upset, so I wanted to be out here.”

Ahmed and others are spreading the word by contacting Libyans and posting videos and pictures on the Internet, so people can see what is happening inside Libya.

“Now that this is finally going on, I am saddened about all the lives that are being lost for no reason,” Ahmed said. “But I’m also so happy and so proud to see the old Libyan flag waving in the second largest city of Libya.”