Libyan Americans Join MPAC at Press Conference on Libya & the New Middle East

February 25, 2011

Earlier today, the Muslim Public Affairs Council held a press conference in Los Angeles with local Libyan American leaders to respond to the winds of change sweeping over the Middle East and North Africa and to call for immediate action to help the Libyan people in their pursuit of freedom, democracy and liberty. 

LISTEN: Full Audio File of the Press Conference

Dr. Maher Hathout, MPAC?s Senior Adviser, described the state of affairs in Libya as an extension of recent revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt and expressed his support for the struggle of the people against the tyrannical regime of Moammar Qaddafi.  

"Obviously, the era of the masses submitting to the brutality and the dictatorship for decades is over," Dr. Hathout said. "There is a sweeping movement that will sweep out the remnants of despotism and dictatorship. It will be a new dawn not just on the Middle East, but it will be a benefit for all of humanity."

SEE: "Kaddafi Must Immediately Step Down & Must Be Prosecuted for Crimes Against Humanity"

Dr. Hathout added that sanctions the U.S. announced this morning it will impose against Libya will only do more punish to the Libyan people fighting for peace, while Qaddafi remains wealthy and continues his reign of terror. 

Three Libyan Americans shared their personal accounts of what family and friends have shared with them about the massacre in Libya and what they are doing locally to raise awareness and provide humanitarian aid to their loved ones in Libya. 

Omar Khalifa, an activist and community organizer who is also on the Californian Democratic Party state central committee, condemned the use of deadly violence against the peaceful demonstrators. 

"In recent days, we have witnessed crimes against humanity as Qaddafi ordered the targeted killing of peaceful pro-democratic demonstrators using tanks, helicopter gunships, fighter jets and small arms in an effort to crush the democratic aspirations of the Libyan people," Khalifa said. "The extent of these war crimes is still not clear. This afternoon, we heard people were peacefully demonstrating in Tripoli and were fired upon immediately after they began their march."

Khalifa urged the Obama administration to take immediate action to prevent further loss of life by imposing a no-fly zone over Libya. 

Dina Duella, a communications professional in Los Angeles who works with Transterra media, spoke about the Libyan youth being the catalyst for the revolution in the face of death threats and intimidation.

"The call for action on Feb. 17 was very heavily mobilized on social media networks like Facebook and Twitter, and absolutely the impetus occurred from the youth using their voices through these different outlets," Duella said. "Unfortunately, in Libya the situation is different than in the regions neighboring it as there is a heavy communications black out? which has caused the media to be very innovative in using YouTube videos and self-made videos. It is a true testament to the bravery of the people and how they have become citizen journalists."

Motasem Benothman, member of the Southern California Libyan American Task Force, stressed how local community activism can make a difference. 

"We, as Libyan Americans, believe we can make a difference," Benothman said. "Libyan American have have formed committees to focus on the media, humanitarian efforts, political outreach, as well as organizational outreach to coordinate between other Libyan American communities around the country." 

The press conference concluded with congregational Friday prayers led by Dr. Hathout, followed by a special funeral prayer for the more than 1,000 Libyans who have lost their lives fighting for democracy.



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