Following are excerpts from an interview with Seif Al-Islam Al-Qadhafi, son of Libyan leader Mu'ammar Al-Qadhafi, which aired on Al-Jazeera TV on December 10, 2006.
Interviewer: You criticized the Libyan regime. Were you referring to your father, Colonel Al-Qadhafi, or were you talking about the regime in general?
Seif Al-Islam Al-Qadhafi: I made it clear, in my August 20 speech, that Libya has a whole host of comnplicated problems and obstacles, which stand in the way of change and progress. The time has come to rectify this. From time to time, we, as a society, must stop and reexamine our past considerations, in order to move forward. We always support renewal and development. This is only natural, because we are a revolutionary regime. Revolutionary is the opposite of reactionism and of conservatism. We are not a conservative or a reactionary regime. We are a revolutionary regime, which means we always move forward.
Interviewer: But your speech took a harsh tone against the regime headed by your father.
Seif Al-Islam Al-Qadhafi: That's what is so exceptional about Libya. Criticism is expressed by the leader and by the Libyans, and this demonstrates our democratic atmosphere, our transparency, and the sincerity of our approach. What we have is a Libyan example which is unique in the region. It would be difficult to find in the region this kind of criticism, which is expressed publicly on live TV. The leader has spoken several times about these problems, demanding a solution. On the contrary, the leader was even more extreme than me - he talked about a new revolution in Libya. I demanded reforms, not a new revolution, but the leader was even more extreme, demanding a revolution. All Libyans realize that the time has come for self-inspection, for reforms, and for reexamining many of the policies implemented in Libya.
The leader wanted to convey the message that change is underway in Libya. No more revolutionary courts, appeals courts, people's courts, and so on. No more oppression and kidnappings, no more... All past violations are gone, never to return. Now there is the rule of law, human rights are respected, we are striving to realize democracy in Libya, and so on.
Interviewer: But why isn't this very harsh criticism against the Libyan regime heard from any of the common people? Why is only Seif Al-Islam Al-Qadhafi allowed to say such things?
Seif Al-Islam Al-Qadhafi: True, many Libyans are afraid to speak up, and this is why you always need a spearhead, someone who will break through the barrier of fear and ice. This is my mission. My mission is to get all the people to talk the same way as me.
As for human rights violations, the Al-Qadhafi Foundation issued a call through the Human Rights Association – which became known as the "Al-Qadhafi Call." We have received all the complaints regarding human rights violations in Libya. Soon, we will complete this dossier, and I can guarantee you that I will personally speak about this. You can expect a surprise, because I intend to speak candidly about the past violations, about the executions, the kidnappings, the tortures... All these violations are documented on TV, beginning with the problems of the 1970's and ending with the [assassination of Libyan journalist] Dheif Al-Ghazzal.
Interviewer: All this took place during the rule of the leader Al-Qadhafi.
Seif Al-Islam Al-Qadhafi: Of course. This did happen. Yes. The leader said that many people took advantage of Libya's battles with the West, with its neighbors, and on the domestic front. Some people settled scores with others, using the revolution and the defense of the regime as pretexts, claiming that "no voice should be louder than the sound of battle," and other similar slogans. There were many violations, but, take it from me, the leader was not responsible for them. You will see this with your own eyes, like all Libyans. Crimes were committed, and the Libyans know this. You will watch someone say: "It is me who committed the crime." "Did Mu'ammar Al-Qadhafi tell you to do it?" "No." "Who did?" "So-and-so told me to do it," or he will say: "I did it myself." They will stand trial and be punished. Everything will be documented, and there will be public trials. All the files will be opened, with full transparency, with names, and then you will see whether these crimes were committed by the order of Mu'ammar Al-Qadhafi, or by other people's orders.
Interviewer: More than once, when discussing reforms in the Middle East, you talked about "shock treatment." What form will this treatment take in Libya? You said you discussed this kind of "shock treatment" with Colonel Al-Qadhafi.
Seif Al-Islam Al-Qadhafi: In the past, the leader believed in "shock treatment," but now, in light of his wisdom, experience, and age, he tells you that change and reform must be gradual. This way, if a problem occurs at any stage, you can control it. On the other hand, "shock treatment" is like falling from a high place – you will have a hard time controlling any problem that may occur. It would be wise for these reforms to be carried out gradually – not slowly, but not very fast, and in the form of "shock treatment." My school believes in "shock treatment," but ultimately, we all believe that there must be reform and a leap forward.