Updates from Syriana; Libyan grad student considering pizza delivery; the dictator with 112 names (Warning: graphic footage)

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As you may recall, last week we ran an article about the struggles of Syrian- and Libyan-Americans here in Florida to come to terms with the revolution gripping their countries overseas. The article profiles two women in particular, Dena Atassi, a 26 year-old whose family hails from Homs, Syria’s third largest city, and 30 year-old Wafia Sayf, who has never touched Libyan soil but has family in the southern city of Sabha. Both have become activists for their respective countries, whether that is on the street protesting or coordinating logistics over Skype calls. I am personally fascinated by Middle Eastern affairs, so I accumulated a bit of extra material that I feel is worth sharing here. One unpublished interview was with University of Central Florida student and Libyan national Nader Mehdawi, who is among 16 other Libyan students on a government-sponsored program to get a masters’ degree—his is in civil engineering. The only trouble is that the U.S. froze the assets of the Libyan government in late February—but that made Mehdawi even more determined to get his degree. “Some people, they fight with guns, or whatever,” Mehdawi says. “But my weapon to take this certificate back to Libya.” Mehdawi says he plans on using the knowledge gained here to rebuild his country when he returns. But while he waits to find a way to fund his education, he says he may have to get a job delivering pizzas, or tending bar, or anything that'll put some money in his pocket—after all, the U.S. government recently gave him permission to do so. Sayf’s organization, Hope Relief, offers emergency assistance to struggling Libyans, but Mehdawi says he isn’t desperate enough yet to ask for money. In other news, Dena Atassi’s father’s cousin, Mohammad Ali Atassi, recently penned an op-ed in the New York Times about the Syrian revolution:
My own father governed Syria for four years, but I inherited from him neither power nor fortune. What I inherited was a small suitcase, sent to us from the prison after he died. It held literally all of his belongings after 22 years in confinement. All I remember from this suitcase today is the smell of the prison’s humidity that his clothes exuded when I opened it.
One of the most salient features of the Syrian-American organizing community seems to be the swap of gruesome videos taken by pen cameras or simply in the aftermath of the Syrian government crackdown and subsequently posted on YouTube. I’ve reproduced a few of the videos that Atassi sent me below, but be warned, some of this footage is very graphic. [youtube NK81MIJITSo] [youtube sXTT77g2Ko8] [youtube 5I1e8EzIZQM] [youtube ncL4wYth6cU] On a much lighter note, if you had first read the article and thought that “Muammar Qaddafi” was the incorrect spelling of the Libyan dictator’s name, think again. According to ABC World News, there are fully 112 correct ways to translate his name into English, given that gleaning the Roman characters from the cursive-like Arabic script is an art, not a science (an eccentric art, judging by the presence of numbers down there). Here’s a good chunk of them:

Qaddafi, Muammar

Al-Gathafi, Muammar

al-Qadhafi, Muammar

Al Qathafi, Mu'ammar

Al Qathafi, Muammar

El Gaddafi, Moamar

El Kadhafi, Moammar

El Kazzafi, Moamer

El Qathafi, Mu'Ammar

Gadafi, Muammar

Gaddafi, Moamar

Gadhafi, Mo'ammar

Gathafi, Muammar

Ghadafi, Muammar

Ghaddafi, Muammar

Ghaddafy, Muammar

Gheddafi, Muammar

Gheddafi, Muhammar

Kadaffi, Momar

Kad'afi, Mu`amar al- 20

Kaddafi, Muamar

Kaddafi, Muammar

Kadhafi, Moammar

Kadhafi, Mouammar

Kazzafi, Moammar

Khadafy, Moammar

Khaddafi, Muammar

Moamar al-Gaddafi

Moamar el Gaddafi

Moamar El Kadhafi

Moamar Gaddafi

Moamer El Kazzafi

Mo'ammar el-Gadhafi

Moammar El Kadhafi

Mo'ammar Gadhafi

Moammar Kadhafi

Moammar Khadafy

Moammar Qudhafi

Mu`amar al-Kad'afi

Mu'amar al-Kadafi

Muamar Al-Kaddafi

Muamar Kaddafi

Muamer Gadafi

Muammar Al-Gathafi

Muammar al-Khaddafi

Mu'ammar al-Qadafi

Mu'ammar al-Qaddafi

Muammar al-Qadhafi

Mu'ammar al-Qadhdhafi

Mu`ammar al-Qadhdh?f? 50

Mu'ammar Al Qathafi

Muammar Al Qathafi

Muammar Gadafi

Muammar Gaddafi

Muammar Ghadafi

Muammar Ghaddafi

Muammar Ghaddafy

Muammar Gheddafi

Muammar Kaddafi

Muammar Khaddafi

Mu'ammar Qadafi

Muammar Qaddafi

Muammar Qadhafi

Mu'ammar Qadhdhafi

Muammar Quathafi

Mulazim Awwal Mu'ammar Muhammad Abu Minyar al-Qadhafi

Qadafi, Mu'ammar

Qadhafi, Muammar

Qadhdh?f?, Mu`ammar

Qathafi, Mu'Ammar el 70

Quathafi, Muammar

Qudhafi, Moammar

Moamar AI Kadafi

Maummar Gaddafi

Moamar Gadhafi

Moamer Gaddafi

Moamer Kadhafi

Moamma Gaddafi

Moammar Gaddafi

Moammar Gadhafi

Moammar Ghadafi

Moammar Khadaffy

Moammar Khaddafi

Moammar el Gadhafi

Moammer Gaddafi

Mouammer al Gaddafi

Muamar Gaddafi

Muammar Al Ghaddafi

Muammar Al Qaddafi

Muammar Al Qaddafi

Muammar El Qaddafi

Muammar Gadaffi

Muammar Gadafy

Muammar Gaddhafi

Muammar Gadhafi

Muammar Ghadaffi

Muammar Qadthafi

Muammar al Gaddafi

Muammar el Gaddafy

Muammar el Gaddafi

Muammar el Qaddafi

Muammer Gadaffi

Muammer Gaddafi

Mummar Gaddafi

Omar Al Qathafi

Omar Mouammer Al Gaddafi

Omar Muammar Al Ghaddafi

Omar Muammar Al Qaddafi

Omar Muammar Al Qathafi

Omar Muammar Gaddafi

Omar Muammar Ghaddafi

Omar al Ghaddafi

And, as you probably know, the International Criminal Court is now looking for the man with 112 names.

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