With Libya’s Moammar Gadhafi now out of the picture, Christian leaders are looking back at his life and brutal legacy.
Catholic leaders said they could not rejoice at the death of Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi, but they recalled some of his more brutal moments and speculated on the future of Christians in the region.
“Gadhafi brutalized people for 42 years. He lived by the sword and, therefore, it’s not surprising that he would die by the sword,” said Habib Malik, associate professor of history at the Lebanese American University, Byblos campus.
“The manner of his death was gruesome and, no matter how evil a person might have been, such an ending is never something to rejoice about; however, he is now dead and his people are justifiably relieved and hopeful about starting a new chapter in their history,” he said.
Malik, a Lebanese Catholic, recalled Gadhafi’s role at the outset of the Lebanese war in 1975.
“He sent mercenaries and snipers to Beirut as well as to Christian coastal towns, where they murdered scores of innocent civilians, and he made many outrageous statements at the time against Lebanon’s Christians,” said Malik, author of the 2010 book “Islamism and the Future of the Christians of the Middle East.”
“In addition to all this he was, of course, responsible for the disappearance of Iman Moussa Sadr,” a prominent Lebanese Shiite cleric who vanished during a 1978 visit to Libya.
Maronite Father Camille Moubarak, president of Sagesse University in Beirut and former dean of its faculty of political science, said : “Gadhafi is one of the leaders who, in the beginning, was good for his people. When he became bad after some years, the possibility of change was easy.”
However, said Father Moubarak, world powers “were with Gadhafi. So after this, we can say that not just Gadhafi alone was the dictator.”
He said it is hard to tell what will happen because of regional instability. He said Libya — and Syria, Yemen and Egypt — could go from one dictator to another. As time goes on, “the people will accept any solution to get out from the war,” he added.
In times of instability, he said, bad people wield power over the weak.
“And who is the weak group in these countries? The Christians. That’s why these kinds of wars are dangerous for the Christians in these kinds of countries,” he said.
Vatican reaction can be found here.