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Libyans In Chicago Area Relieved, Hopeful About Revolt

Khalid And Suma Smeda

Khalid and Suma Smeda are hopeful as the revolt continues in Libya. (Credit: CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) — The dramatic events in Libya are giving hope to Libyans living in Chicago and around the United States, in hopes that they can one day return to a free and Democratic nation.

On Tuesday, CBS News reports, Muammar Qaddafi’s son and heir apparent Saif al-Islam resurfaced free and defiant, thwarting rebel claims that he had been captured, and boasting that his family’s regime is still in charge in Tripoli and will crush the rebellion. Qaddafi himself remains in hiding.

But the day before, while acknowledging that the situation remains “fluid” and is “not over yet,” President Barack Obama said it appears dictator Moammar Gadhafi’s 42-year rule was “coming to an end.”

A Libyan family living in Chicago has special hopes for the revolt. Khalid and Suma Smeda have twin daughters, aged 14 months, who will someday return to the country.

“Each time I look at them, I can’t help myself but smile. They’re going to live in a free country, they’re going to live in a Libya where no one’s going to hunt them down,” Khalid Smeda says of his daughters, little Rayan and Ruba.

Smeda recalls the current regime’s practice of broadcasting hangings during the holy month of Ramadan. Yet Smeda wants no torture, no summary execution for the Libyan dictator.

“We want justice to prevail, not revenge,” he told CBS 2’s Mike Parker. “We want to build a new country. We don’t want to begin it with blood.”

Libyans living in the Chicago also gathered in the Loop on Monday to mark what they hope will be the end of the Qaddafi regime.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Steve Miller reports

“As much as we were waiting for this moment, we couldn’t believe it when it happened,” said Sanad Abdalla.”Back in the day, whenever you asked for something from your mom or your father and they wanted to tell you no, they’d tell you, ‘When Qaddafi goes down.’ So basically that’s a representation of saying, ‘It’s not going to happen.’”

But now a change is imminent, he says, thanks to the stand taken by the people of Libya.

“We got our freedom,” Abdalla said “We got our life back.”