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How Are You… How Are You All?


Will I ever be able to come here again?

E-mails between Najla, a Libyan-American graduate student at Columbia, and her German aunt Kay who lives in Tripoli. Shortly after these e-mails were written, Kay and her children were able to flee to Germany.

From: Kay
Date: Wed, Feb 23, 2011

Tomorrow morning I’m going to go to the embassy and have myself put on the list—and then we have to wait until we know whether we can leave. I’m all over the place at the moment. Please help me figure out what’s important for me to take along. I’m only allowed to take one little bag.


From: Najla
Date: Thu, Feb 24, 2011

How are the kids feeling—do they know what’s going on? We’ve been very worried. Please write us with updates as often as you can.

love, Najla

From: Kay
Date: Thu, Feb 24, 2011

we are doing well. we sleep and hope the next day will be better. but we wake up and nothing has changed. the kids are ok. sometimes they ask if we are safe in our house since we didn’t go outside for a week. at the moment there is no coming out.

give all a big hug from us.

From: Kay
Date: Fri, Feb 25, 2011

Everything’s calm. Supposedly there’s fighting in Tripoli, but in the meantime I don’t know who’s telling the truth anymore. I’m in a deep hole at the moment. I really thought we would leave in the next few hours, but it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen. I’m depressed. Not because I can’t leave but because I don’t know what’s going on. Deep deep hole.

Hopefully tomorrow morning I’ll be somewhat more optimistic again.

Your Kay

From: Kay
Date: Sun, Feb 27, 2011

The UN is finally imposing sanctions. We’d also have a new government for the transition—just like Benghazi.

Everyone’s confident. I am, too. Sorry I wasn’t on Skype. I’m not really up for it at the moment. There’s this listlessness—I call it emotional chaos.

But don’t be worried. It’s all in my head—my battle with myself.

Everything’s fine.

Your Kay

From: Kay
Date: Mon, Feb 28, 2011

I finally bought a ticket for me and the kids. Now we’re hoping that the airplane actually comes tomorrow. It’s going to be a sleepless night. Is it coming or isn’t it?

Until then
Cross your thumbs

Qaddafi’s forces are just stupid killers

An excerpt from a blog post by Wissal Assed’s sister, Nafissa, written on March 23, five days after she fled Libya.

“On the 17th of March I headed to the airport, leaving Tripoli for safety reasons. God only knows what is coming next. After we lost the Internet, Tripoli became a prison of terror.

On the 10th of March (Thursday), Qaddafi’s gangsters sent an SMS to all cell phones, reading: “A Saudi sheikh called Saleh El Fawzan, senior religious scholar and a member of the Committee for Issuing Fatwas in Saudi Arabia, asks every Libyan citizen to report on any imam encouraging people to raise confusion in the community.” Qaddafi sees every Friday as a nightmare, and he has to make Thursdays so frightening for the Libyans by increasing the threats and intimidation.

Friday, 18th of March, was the day I reluctantly left my beloved Libya. On our way to the airport we had to pass through checkpoints where Qaddafi’s forces stop cars, stare closely at each face with their evil eyes. I expected the airport to be unbelievably crowded, but it was completely empty. I heard that they don’t allow Libyans to leave easily, and indeed, before I left the country, they asked what I had been doing in Libya and what I was going to do in Morocco. They also took my name and gave it to somebody to check. I waited for about 30 minutes until that source called back to give the OK for me to leave. I can tell Qaddafi’s forces are just stupid killers, because I carried some of the bullets that I collected from the streets of Tripoli in my handbag, and they couldn’t detect it through their scanning checkpoints.

Wednesday, March 22nd, Qaddafi’s thugs murdered 5 kids (shot in the head) after the Security Council ordered him to cease fire. Qaddafi can’t put his head on a pillow at the end of the day if he doesn’t make sure he murders innocent Libyan citizens and as many kids as he can.”

We will win

On March 10, Sahira, a resident of the Bronx, called her cousin in Syria.

SAHIRA: Hello Mahmoud, how are you? Has been a while.

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