[nfbwatlk] FW: Fwd: [leadership] Libya Blind Cleric Leads Rebels to Freedom

Mike Freeman k7uij at panix.com
Sun Mar 20 12:52:46 CDT 2011



From: wcb-l-bounces at wcbinfo.org [mailto:wcb-l-bounces at wcbinfo.org] On Behalf
Of Marlaina Lieberg
Sent: Sunday, March 20, 2011 10:26 AM
To: WCB-L list
Subject: [Wcb-l] Fwd: [leadership] Libya Blind Cleric Leads Rebels to




Begin forwarded message:

Hi All,


I read this article yesterday about a blind cleric in Libya providing
leadership and guidance to the rebel and their families. Given the UN
decision in Libya, I thought you all would find thisarticle of interest.




Blind Libya cleric a voice of revolt


Yosry Alhadar infuses Koranic verses with patriotism, creating a sense of
epic struggle that sends young men with Kalashnikovs and grenade launchers
against Moammar Kadafi's rockets and warplanes.


By Jeffrey Fleishman, Los Angeles Times


1:57 PM PDT, March 17, 2011


Reporting from Benghazi, Libya


When he was a boy, the blind sheik was forced to read Moammar Kadafi's Green
Book manifesto in Braille, his fingers trying to decipher the erratic mind
of a leader who brutalized a nation.


"It was nonsense, the work of a madman," said Yosry Alhadar, one of the most
prominent clerics in rebel-held territory in eastern Libya. "There was
absolutely no value in it. He wanted the world to know that Libya is Kadafi
and Kadafi is Libya. That they were indivisible. But the world is now
watching the whole facade collapse."


The sheik thought it strange that Kadafi wanted to be as loved and powerful
as a god. He listened to Kadafi's arcane and rambling speeches, following
with disgust the leader's terrorist plots and political mischief. But when
the boy grew into a holy man, the government branded him an Islamic
extremist and banned him from preaching.


"Kadafi didn't want anyone to get too popular, especially a cleric," said
Alhadar, 44. "He was scared of the power of religion. He wanted no one to
have a voice louder than his own. They tried to keep me from preaching for
15 years. I was arrested and interrogated."


Kadafi, like deposed President Hosni Mubarak in Egypt, parlayed the fear of
Islamic militancy into a police state to crush his enemies. An Islamic
insurgency took hold here in the 1990s, but the current revolt, similar to
those in Egypt, Tunisia and Yemen, has not been inspired by religion or
ideology. Islamist organizations have merged with secular revolutionaries in
what is a new hybrid for a region craving democracy.


Some fear, however, that if the West doesn't act against Kadafi, religious
militancy could be revived among Al Qaeda sympathizers and disgruntled young


"If the West doesn't help, the young may lose their faith in democracy,"
said Mustafa Gheriani, a spokesman for the rebels' national council. "If
hope is lost, it will be much easier for extremist elements outside the
country to recruit them. When you are backed against the wall and have
nothing else, you turn to religion."


The sheik has become an eloquent voice of revolt. He infuses verses from the
Koran with patriotism, creating a sense of epic struggle that sends young
men with Kalashnikovs and grenade launchers into battle against Kadafi's
rockets and warplanes.


Dressed in bluejeans and a button-down shirt, Alhadar sat amid wooden
coffins in the swept courtyard of a mosque along the North African coast.
His raspy baritone echoed beyond the waves recently as he led 20,000
worshippers in prayer, urging them to be patient in the revolt to bring down


"My role in this revolution is to inspire people," he said. "We know we will
be victorious in the end, but we can't rush."


Patience against conquerors is a virtue in a country with a long history of
invasions and occupations. The ancient Greeks and Romans, the Ottomans and
Italians have all ruled here, leaving their cultural legacies and the fading
imprints of their architecture. Kadafi, a young military officer, seized
power from the monarchy in a 1969 coup, two years after Alhadar was born.


Now Kadafi's army is on the move, and the rebel stronghold of Benghazi is in
its sights.


Hundreds of caricatures of Kadafi hang in Martyrs Square in front of the
courthouse; on the city's outskirts, dozens of open graves await fallen


"God will decide when the revolution ends," Alhadar said. "We're just trying
to speed it up. Islam gives us the strength to fight.... But there are no
radicals here. All Libyans are one. We don't have Shiite and Sunni
divisions. The outside extremists can't control us. It's not in our culture.
Our religion asks us simply to fight against injustice."


A woman wrapped with a shawl walked along the mosque's courtyard with a
cane. Alhadar reached into his pocket and slipped her money. She praised him
and said she remembered him from the old neighborhood, the blind boy, the
son of a teacher, who grew into a preacher she often heard when passing the
pistachio-green walls of the mosque.


She walked away, her cane clicking over the stone.


When the revolution began one month ago and young rebels jumped upon army
tanks, Alhadar's brother, an electrical worker with two children, was shot
and killed by Kadafi loyalists. He wasn't targeted. He heard gunfire and ran
outside into the chaos, struck by two bullets in the street.


"I was not surprised the revolution came," said the sheik. "But it has
accelerated more than we had expected. Kadafi is finished. We will fight to
the last of our blood. We have to get rid of him."


There were not many Green Books left in Benghazi. They were collected in
piles and set alight by the sea.


jeffrey.fleishman at latimes.com


Copyright C 2011, Los Angeles Times

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