First Published: 2006-04-13

 
Libya remembers US raid with big festival
 

Western stars participate 20th anniversary of US deadly air strikes on its Libya’s main cities.

 

Middle East Online

By Afaf Geblawi - TRIPOLI

Libyan soldiers check some US bomb remains, 19 April 1986, in Tripoli

Basking in its two-year-old rapprochement with the West, Libya boasts that this year its commemorations for Washington's deadly 1986 air strikes on its main cities will be joined by Western stars.

Veteran US soul singer Lionel Ritchie and Spanish tenor Jose Carreras are among the acts that Libya says will be performing in the capital in the early hours of Saturday, exactly 20 years after US warplanes flying out of British bases hit their targets, killing at least 40 people.

"A big festival is planned near the (Tripoli) residence of leader Moamer Kadhafi, where his (adopted) daughter Hana died in the US strike," an information ministry official said.

"Artists from the United States and Europe will take part to send the whole world a message that art is capable of uniting peoples whom politics has divided and to express their regret for what their governments did."

The commemoration is to be called the "Hana Festival for Freedom and Peace" in remembrance of the Libyan leader's slain daughter.

It is scheduled to kick off at 2:30 am (0030 GMT), the exact time the US raid on the cities of Tripoli and Benghazi began in revenge for a bomb attack on a West Berlin disco frequented by US servicemen which Washington blamed on Libyan agents.

Candles will be lit and patriotic songs sung before the concert proper gets under way.

Richie and Carreras are among 65 foreign musicians who are booked to perform.

A second concert is to be held in the same venue Saturday evening featuring Arabic music by guest performers including Egyptian singer Mohammed Munir.

A film on the US raid entitled: "The Resistance to the Attack" is also to be shown, along with children's drawings and paintings.

A conference is to be held, which organizers hope will be attended by Western academics, on the theme: "The US attack, its consequences and the right of Libyans to compensation and an apology".

"In a bad world where Iraq is occupied and racism reigns in every country, we are sending out a message of peace through the artists of the world," said organizer Osama Mohammed.

Then US president Ronald Reagan famously called Kadhafi the "mad dog" of the Middle East in his justification of the US bombings.

But unlike the Iranian and Iraqi regimes, which went on to form part of President George W. Bush's "axis of evil", the Libyan leader was pragamtic enough to call in the very Western intelligence services he had long assailed to certify his abandonment of efforts to acquire non-conventional weapons.

The resulting public announcement in late 2003 was followed by the restoration of relations by Washington in June the following year.

But Kadhafi never forgave Reagan himself for the bombings. When the former president died in June 2004, the Libyan leader said he regretted his death because it meant he could never be prosecuted for his crimes "against the children of Libya".

 

Saudi, allies unveil Qatar 'terrorist' blacklist

Israel dismantles metal detectors from holy site

Trump says Syrian rebel aid program was 'dangerous and wasteful'

Iran gets more involved in Iraq militarily

600,000 Yemenis expected to contract cholera in 2017

Palestinians demand removal of Jerusalem 'security' measures

Key challenges in Libya's chaos

Where Afghanistan is heading and what it means for the Arab Gulf

Saudi raises $4.53 bln in oversubscribed bond issue

Jordanian mourners chant 'death to Israel'

14 Saudis face ‘imminent’ unfair execution says Amnesty

Rival Libyan leaders hold talks in France

Amnesty International urges EU to 'reset' Turkey relations

Erdogan urges Muslims to ‘protect’ Jerusalem

US sanctions protecting Iranian tech sector

Air strike kills civilians in Syria despite truce

278 Europe-bound migrants rescued off Libya

Beirut, the upcoming start-up hub in MENA region

Cardinal hails 'rebirth' of Iraqi Christian town

Top UN delegation visits crisis-hit Yemen

Trump aide due in Israel to ease holy site tensions

Libya’s coastguard rescues 150 Europe-bound migrants

EU warns Turkey economy at risk in Germany row

Saudi crown prince takes temporary charge

Israel strikes Gaza after missile across border

Hezbollah says fight on Syria border ‘nearing end’

Staff of Turkey opposition paper stand trial

Tehran’s judiciary chief accuses US of jailing innocent Iranians

Palestinian arrested after attack in Tel Aviv

Maghreb future is tied to resolving Western Sahara conflict

MENA countries particularly vulnerable to climate change

UN-backed Libya PM to meet eastern strongman near Paris

Saudi Arabia and allies insist demands non-negotiable as GCC crisis continues

Netanyahu faces mounting pressure over holy site

Two Jordanians killed at Israeli embassy in Amman

Erdogan holds talks with Gulf leaders on Qatar crisis

Arab League accuses Israel of 'playing with fire' at holy site

Erdogan seeks to defuse standoff around Turkey’s Qatar

Syria warplanes strike near Damascus despite ceasefire

US warns Iran over imprisoned Americans

Kuwait protests to Lebanon over Hezbollah training

30 extremists in Sinai operations

Three Palestinians shot dead in Jerusalem

Nearly 360 injured in Turkey by magnitude 6.7 quake

UN says Saudi to blame for deadly Yemen strike on civilians