Journalist Hafsa Kara-Mustapha says Muammer Gaddafi’s brutal lynching two years ago was a harbinger of the future Libya.
The Prophet (SAW) said: “The body should not be abused, the face should not be disfigured and it should be given a dignified burial.”
Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi was a colourful character who led a colourful life. His death however was ignominious. On the 20th October 2011, during the Nato-led war on Libya, French helicopter gunships identified Gadaffi’s convoy and stopped him leaving his hometown city of Sirte.
The Libyan leader was offered to a lynch mob. After torturing him for several hours the group of young Libyans killed him and handed over his remains to the country’s new and much-lauded leadership. His body, was placed in a makeshift morgue and people were invited to view his remains.
The new Libyan order, described as the “civilised” alternative to Gaddafi’s rule, exposed the decaying corpse of the slain leader for five days. Libyans were travelling from across the country to witness the macabre scene, where the decaying process was made faster, by an ever-increasing influx of visitors warming up the already malfunctioning morgue.
In violation of every decent and human value Libya’s leadership, led by the supposedly pious Mustapha Abdel Jallil, left the body of the slain leader to rot while scores of men, women and even children, dressed up in Eid clothes to witness the scene, came flocking in.
By the third day, the atmosphere inside the cold room was almost unbearable and visitors were now forced to wear masks before entering the room and taking pictures of the rotting corpse.
A Swiss TV crew, in Sirte to film this un-Islamic “lying in state,” was forced to leave the morgue when the main cameraman was taken ill after viewing the ghoulish scene. Despite the growing revulsion at this depraved parade, the body remained exposed for two more days in violation of basic Islamic values. Values that were presented as the crux of Libya’s new form of governance.
By the fourth day, no camera crew was filming as the scenes were deemed too horrific for any audience and the liquid spilling from the remains made the visiting process all the more difficult. Again, this development failed to move Abdel Jallil’s temporary governing council and Gaddafi’s corpse was only moved on the fifth day when even transporting his body became problematic in view of the advanced stages of decomposition.
The Libyan leader, who had overthrown a Western puppet monarch in 1969, funded much of Africa’s freedom movements and was a staunch advocate of Arab and Muslim unity, was said to be buried in an undisclosed location in the heart of the Libyan desert. No doubt the body was simply thrown to the jackals – the animal variety – in the hope that no one would turn his grave into a site of pilgrimage for his numerous supporters coming from Libya and across the African continent.
Two years on from these disturbing scenes and what of Libya today?
The country, left rudderless after the fall of Tripoli, is now in utter chaos. Heavily armed youths forming various militias are now running riot across the country throwing their weight about. Lawlessness is rife and the basic amenities that had been introduced under Gaddafi’s rule have all but disappeared.
Mocked for using female body guards, Gaddafi, who endeavoured to break from tribal tradition by ensuring women become fully involved in the affairs of the country, is now greatly missed by those very women who were ululating when his death was announced.
Eager to appeal to their Wahabi sponsors from the Gulf, the new Libyan order immediately repealed the laws designed to give women rights introduced under Gaddafi. In a bid to purge Libya from its past history, Adel Jallil who diligently served under Gaddafi when he was still the powerful “Brother leader,” ordered that laws relevant to women’s rights be reviewed or withdrawn.
While equal citizenship for black Libyans was never challenged, the country’s black population now regularly falls victim to attacks and the culprits are never stopped. “Black bashing” has become a popular sport in the newly liberated Libya and goes unreported in the mainstream media.
The impressive number of arms provided by Qatar at the start of the Nato onslaught has now fallen into the wrong hands and Al Qaeda in the Maghreb has seen its arsenal double since the fall of Gaddafi’s government. The effects of this ill-thought-out operation has had consequences beyond Libyan borders.
In January this year, Algeria was victim of a major terror attack on one of its gas plants from AQMI militants armed from Libya. Northern Mali has been overtaken by the same AQMI leading to a French led (and barely reported) invasion of the oil rich North of the Sahel country.
At the very start of the protests in Benghazi, Gaddafi offered to negotiate with his former apparatchiks now calling themselves rebels. These men, who had no qualms about serving under his orders before France’s most notable Israel defender Bernard Henry Levy invited them to France to launch the Nato-led bombing campaign on their country, were now portrayed as the “democratic” alternative to Gaddafi.
Reminiscent of Iraq’s Ahmed Chalabi’s call to invade Iraq in 2003, Libya, like Iraq, is on the verge of collapse. This once wealthy country, where life expectancy doubled in under two generations, is slipping into lawlessness and chaos. How the international community failed to see this after the ongoing catastrophe that is Iraq is beyond comprehension.
As western capitals clamour for another war in the Arab world, the question remains when – if ever – lessons will be learnt.