Saturday, February 18, 2006

The "Cartoon riot" massacre in Libya

Almost too shocked and saddened just now to write rationally - weeping Crying or Very sad at the Benghazi riot massacre... death-toll figures range from 9 shot by police to 11 ... to 15. According to a direct telephone call between Italian TV and a consulate employee still in the building (a Libyan) there are a further 55 people seriously wounded (shot) plus several hundred have been beaten . He sounds shell-shocked, says he can't understand what's happening... nothing like this had ever happened there before.

Calderoli came up with his teeshirt provocation a couple of days ago, must have been peeved because despite all the Northern League paper's provocations, Italian racism hadn't been getting as much "attention" as Denmark's?

Well now he's got exactly what he wanted: piles of muslim corpses.

The Italian ambassador to Libya - a very experienced ME hand so he should know- says that the intensity of the Libya street-reaction was not due "solely" to the cartoons - or even to their ultra-provocative "relaunching" by the Italian Northern League minister (who 2 days ago had flashed a cartoon-teeshirt from under his jacket in a kind of "striptease" on TV - and offered to provide thousands and thousands of them free of charge to whoever writes in to request them!!.. NOT much reported on "international MSM" but not necessary as so many Libyans speak Italian - and watch Italian TV via satellite) - but were fuelled synergically by "revelations in the last few days regarding the treatment of muslim detainees by other western nations" - since the Italian consulate was the only "western" potential-symbol in Benghasi. Translation from diplomat-speak: the intensity of the demonstrators' fury, in normally very calm very provincial Benghasi, was fuelled also by the impact of the last few days' revelations of Abu Ghraib murder-torture-and-defilements.


Calderoli had previously said "Islam should be outlawed" and called for "new crusades" against it. Here's a Trade Union statement issued in Libya, dating from the day before the riot that gives an idea how recent and past events and present-day fears all get woven together in fuelling the protests - which are by no means purely religious - other pre-riot Libyan protest-statements I've seen also focussed on "calls for violence against muslims", not blasphemy.

Tripoli, Libya, 02/16 - The Workers trade Union of the Community of Sahelo-Saharan States (CEN-SAD) has criticised recent statements by Italian Minister on Constitutional Reforms, Roberto Calderoli, who called for new crusades against Muslims.

In a communiqué, the Union also decried the cartoons on prophet Muhammad published in a Danish newspaper, condemning the absence of reaction from the Danish government and its persistence will not to offer apologies to Muslims.

The communiqué thinks that this attitude proves the existence of a conspiracy against Muslims, and confirms the return of crusaders to drive a wedge between peoples.

The Union calls for the unity of Muslims throughout the world and invites Muslim countries to follow the example of Libya, which closed its embassy in the Danish capital, Copenhagen.

So in this particular case, they seem to be reacting to the cartoons as a western call for pogroms/crusades both in Europe and elsewhere - and knowing Calderoli, the Northern League and what they preach ... plus their thuggish gangs of supporters...who can say they're wrong?

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