Former MHS teacher, student leave country to work on Libyan broadcast

Janica Kaneshiro | Staff Writer

Former English Language Learners teacher Shahrazad Kablan picked up and moved to Doha, Qatar in March to begin her job as a host of a freedom broadcast show, defending her native country of Libya in the midst of the revolution. Kablan brought her daughter, Miriam Bugazia, a former sophomore at Mason High School, with her to the Middle East. Bugazia said she no longer attends school, instead working at the news station daily.

Though Kablan originally moved from Libya as a young adult to escape the brutality of dictator Muammar Gaddafi’s regime and gain freedom that is offered in America, she said she has now moved back to the Middle East in hopes of seeing her people achieve the same freedom.

“Libya has been ruled for 42 years by Muammar Gaddafi,” Kablan said. “The reason we moved back is that, on February 17, a revolution started to end a dictatorship. Now we are participating in this revolution, because [Libyans are] getting [their] freedom back.”

Kablan is the first female to host a freedom show for the Freedom Press, a network specific to the goal of freedom in Libya. She was offered the job by the Freedom Press network soon after the outbreak of revolution in February, despite her lack of previous experience. Kablan hosts an hour-long nightly show called “Libya: The People,” where she takes calls from people directly affected by the conflict. The Freedom Press network — Libya’s first in 42 years — airs 12 hours a day. Because her job entails speaking out against the infamous dictator, Kablan and the Freedom Press headquarters aren’t located immediately in Libya, so as to lessen the threat of harm from Gaddafi and his forces. She said her job changes daily, but a few daily duties remain the same.

“[As] an anchor, I’m actually speaking with people every night,” Kablan said. “[‘Libya: The People’ is] a show where people report from back home with their ideas and tell us what’s going on, so it’s a first-hand account of the situation in Libya.”

Bugazia helps her mother through her daily duties, but instead of being in front of the camera, most of her work is done behind it.

“I’m not in school; I’m just working here at the station,” Bugazia said. “Mainly, I work for the [network’s accompanying] website, so I go in everyday. …Sometimes, I write an article, but usually I’m just doing research. …Sometimes, I work in production. I help with the videos or I sit and just learn. Basically, whatever work [is] lying around, I do it.”

Kablan said she knows that with Gaddafi’s way of killing off people who speak against him, both she and Bugazia are in imminent danger with her position as news anchor with the Freedom Press network.

“Anyone who speaks against Gaddafi is put on a hit list and Gaddafi has done this before,” Kablan said. “He has killed people outside of the country just for speaking against him and this has been done for years. …The minute we’re involved in any work like this, we know that we are in danger — especially myself, because I’m on TV every night; [Gaddafi] knows my name.”

Kablan said the danger is worth it because she believes Libyans’ liberation is invaluable.

“I know that I am putting myself and my family in jeopardy and danger, but we’re willing to go through the sacrifice for Libya and for freedom,” Kablan said. “I’m not better than anybody who has been killed during this revolution.”

Bugazia said that she also feels that the danger is worthwhile because she feels a dedication to her country.

“It’s really important [that we’re here] because even though I’m young, I’m still helping out with a lot and they need all the help they can get,” Bugazia said. “It’s the least we can do to help the people of Libya get the freedom they deserve and the freedom we have in America.”

The social media, which is responsible for spreading the word on the revolution through anchors like Kablan, is what has brought the revolution to the world’s attention. Social media is what will also see the revolution to through to the end, according to Kablan.

“Gaddafi came out and he said, ‘You cannot poison me; you cannot shoot me; you cannot bomb me,’” Kablan said. “So I responded back on [the news network] Al Jazeera that, yes, we will not do that. We will not poison you; we will not shoot you; we will not bomb you; but we will YouTube you, we will Tweet you and we will Facebook you, and that’s exactly what we’re doing.”

Despite the less than ideal conditions that the Libyan people are fighting with, Kablan said she is optimistic for a brighter future.

“[We] don’t have bombs; [we] are not military, [we] are just young people who are revolting for freedom and wishing for a better future,” Kablan said. “So, [social media] is our weapon, and we will use it.”