Gaddafi demands Italy cash for colonial reparations
The Libyan leader angered Italy after he spoke of his people’s “hatred” of Italians and threatened attacks on Italian interests in Libya unless reparations were agreed.
Two weeks after riots outside the Italian consulate in the Libyan city of Benghazi, in which 11 people were killed, Colonel Gaddafi said that Libyans were still simmering with rage over Italy’s 33 years of colonial rule.
The Italian Government sought to play down the remarks. Opposition leaders however, called them unacceptable, government supporters accused him of interfering in Italy’s election campaign and Mussolini’s granddaughter said Libyans should thank Italy they were not “riding on camels with turbans on their heads”.
Italy acquired Libya in 1911 after a brief war with the Ottoman Empire. Fascist Italy, under Mussolini, waged a long, bloody “pacification”. It withdrew in 1943 under Anglo-American pressure but many colonialists stayed on.
Talks between Libya and Italy over a settlement have failed to reach agreement, despite Colonel Gaddafi’s eagerness to settle disputes with other Western nations, including Britain and the US.
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