Second Libyan protest blocks traffic in downtown Columbia

Friday, February 25, 2011 | 8:06 p.m. CST; updated 3:20 p.m. CST, Saturday, February 26, 2011
Mustafa Sawanis (center), a member of the Islamic Center of Central Missouri, leads protesters in prayer, asking God to protect the people of Libya. Members from the Islamic center marched from the center to the corner of Broadway and Providence Road after Friday prayer. The group repeated part of the route taken Wednesday to include more of the community who couldn't attend the Wednesday demonstration, which was planned on short notice. Osama El-Tayash said the group would meet again next Friday if Moammar Gadhafi is still in power. "If he's still there, we will be here," he said.

COLUMBIA – "Gadhafi must go" were the words shouted by nearly 60 men, women and children standing in solidarity for Libya.

The rioting and insurrection in Libya hit home in Columbia Friday afternoon as a group of people held a vocal demonstration at the intersection of Providence Road and Broadway against the Moammar Gadhafi regime. The demonstration was large enough to block some cars from passing in the westbound lane on Broadway.

The rally started after the group finished Friday prayers at about 2 p.m. at the Islamic Center of Central Missouri.

Osama El-Tayash said the demonstrations today had come about as a result of the fervor that the Libyan community still felt over the oppression of the Gadhafi regime. El-Tayash also said they were a result of the disappointment some of the marchers felt after not attending the other demonstration held on Wednesday.

“This was organized by the passion of our Libyans here,” El-Tayash said.

“This is the least we can do,” Taha Hameduddin said. “We’re just trying to raise awareness for what’s going on – the bloodshed.”

Hameduddin was one of the protesters in the demonstration, where people of all ages carried the red, green and black 1951-69 Libyan flag to show their support for the people who were still being oppressed under Gadhafi’s rule.

After roughly an hour of shouts for Gadhafi’s ousting, the marchers returned to the Islamic center parking lot for a prayer, where they recited the first Sura from the Quran.

“It’s a prayer for the deceased in Libya,” said Hameduddin, originally from Hyderabad, India. “We wanted God to have mercy on them.”

The demonstrations were not really protests, said Muhammad Muraywid, one of the members of the group that marched down Broadway. Rather, they were standing in solidarity with Libyans, he said.

The group included people from all over the globe, including marchers from India, Sierra Leone, Iran, Palestine and the city of Columbia who all wanted to show their support for their “Libyan brothers,” Muraywid said.

El-Tayash who, along with his brother Ahmed El-Tayash, helped organize Wednesday’s demonstration in Speaker’s Circle at MU, said that the primary goal was to raise awareness and to help oust Gadhafi from power. 

“First thing's first: We would like to see this tyrant, Gadhafi, gone. Second, we would like to see the people of Libya finally get what they deserve ... and begin to undo the damage that Gadhafi has done for the past 41 years,” El-Tayash said.

Most of El-Tayash’s family still lives in Benghazi, Libya, and have been among those participating in the insurrection.

“I think everyone is Benghazi has taken to the streets,” El-Tayash said.

Although the New York Times has reported that Gadhafi has disrupted channels of communication in the nation, El-Tayash said he has been able to talk to his relatives and make sure that they are safe.

But the future of Libya is still in flux, El-Tayash said.

“It’s hard to say when this will end," he said. "Hopefully tomorrow. Hopefully now.”

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Tom de Plume February 25, 2011 | 9:17 p.m.
This comment has been removed.
Ellis Smith February 26, 2011 | 6:11 a.m.

@Tom de Plume:

Your point is a good one, but we are dealing with a genuine force of nature.

This is a small city with three institutions of higher learning. In such a venue if someone breaks a fingernail or catches cold, that's a reason for demonstrating.

As long as there are no deaths or injuries, or destruction of public or private property, ignore the situation.

Experience nationally suggests that if the institutions of higher learning are of the technical variety there are fewer demonstrations. :)

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