The Malta Independent 20 August 2019, Tuesday

Libyans Discard ‘Gaddafi’s rubbish’ from Ta’ Giorni school, change residency flag

Malta Independent Tuesday, 23 August 2011, 00:00 Last update: about 6 years ago

It was a small group of people that gathered yesterday morning outside the Libyan ambassador’s residence in Madliena to show that the time of Gaddafi’s rule is over.

Marking the end of a revolution and hoping to start a process of change was their motivation.

Unlike the protests that took place locally over the past months, yesterday’s events were peaceful. In fact, while a police bus was noticed outside the Libyan embassy premises in Balzan, there were no demonstrators there.

No policeman accompanied the group that gathered in Madliena and that later moved to the Ta’ Giorni school.

It is Ramadan – the holy month of fasting – and everything happened during daylight hours, so things were kept low key. Nonetheless, opponents of the Libyan regime wanted to mark their presence and “discard Gaddafi’s rubbish”.

While the Libyan ambassador to Malta, Saadun Suayeh, was reportedly in the UK, the group gathered outside Dar Libya, the Madliena residence on which the green flag was still hoisted. Despite being away from Malta, the Libyans who gathered said he approved of what was going on and had even secretly met the representatives of the Transitional National Council when they were in Malta over the past weeks.

Sources said the residence was not being used because refurbishment works were planned and the ambassador resided at a rented place in Baħar iċ-Ċagħaq.

In agreement with an employee who opened the gate and a garage door, the demonstrators climbed on the Madliena residence’s roof shortly before 11am and changed flags while a television set in the garage tuned on an Arabic news channel bellowed in the background.

The demonstrators stamped on the green flag and later burnt it.

This was understood to be the last place where the green flag was still hoisted. After their evening prayers at the Paola mosque, members of the Libyan community changed the flags on the mosque, the embassy in Balzan and the school in Ta’ Giorni.

Asked why only a small group of demonstrators had turned up, Joussef Lamloum, a representative of the community, said the good news had come on Sunday night and many young Libyans had left for their homeland or were preparing to leave. Some had not had news from their family members.

“After the rebels took control of a mountain east of Tripoli, many made arrangements to leave Malta,” he explained.

Since no direct flights are operating to Tripoli, most Libyans were taking flights to Tunis to make their way home.

Commenting on the fact that not much jubilation was being expressed, Mr Lamloum said it was good the rebels’ entry into Tripoli happened during the month of Ramadan because demonstrators were keeping control and had no intention of taking “vendetta”.

He hoped things would continue to progress in this way for their homeland to welcome “all colours of Libyans”.

The group, followed by journalists, then left in their cars decorated with flags, to the Libyan school in Ta’ Giorni.

Although the red, black and green flags remained hoisted, it seemed a watchman had changed the locks to the front gate of the primary and secondary school building. A man wearing a cap with the new flag appeared with the keys some time later and let the group in.

Large perspex signs bearing quotes from the Green Book and which decorated the school grounds were broken and torn down.

Inside the school, they entered the headmaster’s and his assistant’s offices, the library and what seemed like a storeroom that had Gaddafi memorabilia.

The inside of the school looked very shabby and badly in need of paint works.

A couple of the Libyans present went through the books and threw out all copies of the Green Book, including new books that were still in plastic.

“Look at the money wasted in ignorance,” they called out to journalists and photographers as they tore the books. “Libyans are ignorant because of him.”

They lamented that Libya is the richest country in the world but Gaddafi was so self-centred, he did not even believe in the prophet Mohammed.

Besides the books, photos and large posters of Gaddafi, four prints of black and white photos on wood showing Gaddafi with Malta’s first and second Presidents Sir Anthony Mamo and Anton Buttigieg as well as former minister Lorry Sant, among others, were broken.

Before leaving, they painted the words ‘Gaddafi No More” on the board bearing the school name.

They have pledged to carry out maintenance works at the school and improve things so that its standard is raised. They hope it will become equal to or better than the University of Malta for Libyans and Maltese people too.

Demonstrations were to continue following evening prayers at the Paola mosque.

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