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Protesters lash out at Libyan leader

Eric Beiersdorfer / Lantern photographer

Less than a month after Egyptian protesters made their voices heard at the corner of 15th Avenue and High Street in Columbus, Libyan internationals and supporters went to the highly traveled intersection on Monday night to protest recent state-sponsored violence in their homeland.

In Libya, protesters have taken to the streets with hopes of forcing leader Moammar Gadhafi from power. According to CNN.com, Gadhafi and his government are attempting to put down the civil unrest with actions that United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton characterized as “unnecessary bloodshed.” Random shootings against protesters have been reported.

In Columbus, local men, women and children of Libyan descent and supporters waved flags and chanted in protest to the alleged state-sponsored killing of Libyan protestors. By 5 p.m., about 150 people had joined the protest.

Homdi Soliman, a Libyan citizen, Columbus resident and organizer, spoke about the intent of the demonstration.

“We are protesting the Libyan government, the (Gadhafi) regime,” Soliman said. “We are protesting the massacre that’s been going on in Libya. The Libyan regime is shooting our people with bullets.”

Soliman said the recent citizen uprise in Libya could be credited to successful protests in Egypt and Tunisia.

“What’s been happening in Egypt and Tunisia has helped,” Soliman said. “The people in Libya has been oppressed for 42 years under the same ruler. What’s been going in Egypt has helped the Libyan people, has lifted the fear out of their hearts.”

Soliman, who returned from visiting family in Libya just two weeks ago, maintained his composure throughout the demonstration. Others were overcome with emotion.

Tears rolled down the face of “Heba,” a Libyan and Ohio State graduate who asked not to give her last name due to fear of an anti-government response from the Libyan president.

Taofilc Nasrat, also a Libyan citizen at the Columbus protest, spoke out against the Gadhafi regime without fear.

“They don’t care about the citizens,” Nasrat said. “We just need (Americans) to stop supporting Gadhafi.”

The chants of the protesters could be heard across the Oval and from blocks away in all directions. Soliman interpreted the words of the Arabic chants before rejoining his friends in the protest.

“They’re saying that the blood of the people who died isn’t going to be wasted,” Soliman said. “They’re saying ‘Gadhafi needs to go.’ They’re saying ‘enough is enough, enough is enough, enough is enough.'”

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