New Yorkers rally behind Libyans seeking freedom

Libyans will rally again outside the United Nations today from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

The second rally of its type this week calls for New Yorkers to join Libyans in their struggle for freedom against longtime dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

“I believe in the people in my country, just two or three more days and he’s out,” said Sari Hashem, 31, a Libyan native and mother of two who now lives in Waterbury, Conn. “This is not one or two people against him; this is the whole country.”

Growing up in Benghazi, a city now liberated by rebels, criticism of Gaddafi was suicide, said Hashem.

“Every person complained but if anyone talked publicly against Gaddafi you were taken to jail or maybe killed,” said Hashem. “There was no freedom.”

“I have a lot of hope. Like everyone else watching this transpire, we’re hoping this finishes as soon as possible,” said Yasmeen Ar-Rayani, 20, a Columbia University student. Her father was a Libyan diplomat who defected in the 1980s.

“In the exiled community we’re celebrating, because now we maybe have a chance to return,” she continued. “But we have a deep sense of mourning for the lives that have been lost. It’s particularly difficult in exile because a big part of you wants to be there.”


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