During a usual day in Windsor, Ontario, the place I call home, my mother and I visited a close family friend to bring back her bowl after finishing an Arabic delicacy she made for us.
The woman has three children, and generally cooks scrumptious, generous feasts with tastes and aromas hailing from her country of origin, Libya.
Like her former native city and the rebel-stronghold of Benghazi, this woman is strong. Meeting her after one year of not being in the laid-back and recession-hit Windsor, I thought she looked younger, thinner and her spirit seemed as sturdy as usual.
After finishing our mundane talk, the family friend bombarded us with some breaking news.
Her husband had left the comfort and home he knows in Canada to join rebels in Benghazi to liberate Libya.
She told us that her husband did not want to go back to see Libya only when it is liberated and Muammar is ousted, and felt that it was his duty to be part of the process.
Shocked at how politics are so ingrained and part of our shaky Arab lives, my first reaction, which of course I kept muted inside me, was: “Hope he had some good life insurance before he left left.” Yeah, kids need good education, and the family is still paying their mortgage. Talk about sacrifice to the homeland!
We wished her safety for her husband and his return.
She continued on about how Qaddafi has the backing of 25 thousands Chadians and how he is recruiting mercenaries from Africa, and of his crimes of killing dissenters before the uprising.
One thing I have noticed about Libyans, even before the uprising, is their disgust for how Qaddafu defiled the martyred bodies of the dissenters he killed, and of his efforts to cover up their murders.
Throwing them in the sea and burying their skulls under cement roads are just a few examples; according to our friend, the treatment of the bodies is one of the main reasons that the rebels were so eager to overthrow Qaddafi.
Tea and anger
My cousins were drinking their tea after breaking their fast at our home when I heard my cousin, in an agitated tone, telling my mother: “I couldn’t believe that they had the audacity to thrash the rebels and we’re at his home!”
“His home” means the home of the Libyan-Canadian man who just returned to his native of Benghazi, and “they” referred to two Iraqi men – family friends, too. According to these two Iraqi men, the rebels are joining hands with NATO, a Western and US-led military body that “shouldn’t be trusted.”
But the Libyan family friend whom we visited said without NATO’s backing Qaddafi would have flattened Benghazi. Funny, like many Iraqis, one of the men worked and benefited from Libya’s oil riches before his immigration to Canada.
The other man, ironically enough, is an Iraqi Kurd, and Kurds were only able to shield themselves from Saddam’s crimes and cruel assault via American backing, allowing them to create a semi-autonomous region for themselves in northern Iraq. Prior the 2003 US invasion of Iraq, Shiite and Kurdish Iraqis were the ones allied with the West, as opposed to the Sunnis.
Religious and ethnic background is often still preventing the Arab mind from being fully liberated.