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San Diego Libyans Celebrate Gaddhafi’s Death

Aired 10/20/11 on KPBS News.

One man equated the death to cutting off the head of a dragon.

Libyans in San Diego rejoiced over news of Moammer Gaddhafi’s killing Thursday; one man even equated the death to cutting off the head of a dragon.

Abdul el-Arbi walked into the Islamic Center of San Diego this morning at dawn brimming with joy. His family in Tripoli had just phoned him with news of Gaddhafi’s death. But the Libyan-born man still knelt down to pray inside the mosque without uttering a peep.

"After prayer, I made the announcement and everybody was happy for Libya," el-Arbi said. "And I told them tonight, which is the last prayer, I’m going to distribute chocolates for the celebration.”

Amuna Absel Samad, director of the Institute of Public and Urban Affairs at San Diego State University, said Gaddhafi was reviled for his brutal rule and his concentration of power and Libya’s wealth within his family’s hands.

“He saw himself as the ruler or father of the nation and really did not invest in building a state where you can see fairness and justice,” Samad said.

When Gaddhafi was ousted from power this summer, his country did not have political parties, a parliament or unions.

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