The last edition of the French Sunday paper Le Journal du Dimanche (JDD) contains a long interview with Muammar Gaddafi. In the interview, Gaddafi challenges the accuracy of media reports about the Libyan unrest – which at the time had not yet developed into a full-fledged civil war – and he calls on the UN Security Council or the African Union to send an investigative commission to the country.
At one point, JDD reporter Laurent Valdiguié says, “Democracies don’t like regimes that fire on their own people….” This is Gaddafi’s response:
I have never fired on my own people! And you don’t think that the Algerian regime has been using force for years in combating Islamist extremism? And you don’t think that the Israelis bomb Gaza and civilian victims because of the armed groups that are there? And in Afghanistan or in Iraq, you don’t know that the American army regularly causes civilian victims? Does NATO never fire on civilians in Afghanistan? Here in Libya we have not fired on anybody. The investigative commission will show that. Half of the dead consist of police and soldiers; the other half consists of attackers [rebels]. I defy the international community to come here and prove the contrary.
Readers may judge for themselves the pertinence of Gaddafi’s allusions to civilian casualties in Afghanistan and Iraq. But the remark about Israel and Gaza is particularly interesting. It certainly seems to treat Israeli military actions in Gaza as legitimate: namely, in light of the “armed groups that are there.” What other leader of an Arab country or of a predominantly Muslim one would formulate matters in this way? Would, for instance, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan? The answer, of course, is no.
And here, incidentally, is a further picture of a portrait of Gaddafi that has been defaced by Libyan protestors with, among other things, a Star of David.
The picture comes from the French-language Belgian public television RTBF, where it appeared – uncommented – as the final shot in a documentary on Gaddafi. (Hat-tip: the Philosémitisme blog.) Note too the use of the black eye-patch. The eye-patch is also to be seen in many of the defaced images of Hosni Mubarak from the Egyptian protests. It appears to be an allusion to the former head of the Israeli armed forces Moshe Dayan.
For my earlier collection of similar images from the Libyan protests, see here.