Local News

Duke professor relieved by end of Gadhafi's rule

Posted October 20, 2011 5:21 p.m. EDT
Updated October 20, 2011 6:59 p.m. EDT

— A Duke University professor who fled Libya when she was 14 said Thursday that she was grateful that relatives in her homeland no longer have to live in fear of dictator Moammar Gadhafi.

Gadhafi was killed Thursday after forces trying to end his 42-year rule overwhelmed his hometown and a NATO air strike hit his convoy as it fled, officials said.

Jen'nan Read, associate professor of sociology and global health, said she heard that Gadhafi had been killed while she was volunteering at her third-grader's school.

"I'm elated. I'm also sad because it shouldn't have had to happen this way," Read said.

She said she wished the fighting could have ended much sooner, sparing lives and the country's infrastructure. Her half-brother was among those trying to bring down the Gadhafi regime.

"Now, these people can get up in the morning and go to work. Now, these people can take their kids to park. Now, these people can do things that we all do and take for granted every single day," she said. "Now, they actually can move on with their lives."

Read and her brother moved to the U.S. in 1986 with their American-born mother, and she had to leave her Libyan father behind. He later remarried, and she never met her new relatives until the rebellion against Gadhafi started this year.

She was able to meet her father this summer for the first time in 25 years while on a business trip to Egypt. She said she wasn't able to contact them Thursday because the phone lines to Libya were busy.

"I think there are a lot of really smart Libyans who have been waiting for this day, and they are eager to go rebuild their country," she said.

Bruce Jentleson, a professor of public policy and political science in Duke's Sanford School of Public Policy, said the U.S. and international agencies will likely have a support role in the transition to a new Libyan government.

"It's not going to be easy. It's not going to be smooth or simple. Chances are it will have a lot of ups and downs," said Jentleson, who recently served as a consultant to the U.S. State Department.

The Libyan people likely feel as if a huge weight has been lifted with Gadhafi not only deposed but killed, he said.

"He was really one of the worst of the worst," Jentleson said.