One MP in the British Parliament has a special interest in seeing Colonel Gaddafi go: Robert Halfon, whose family left Tripoli as penniless refugees shortly after Gaddafi came to power. Here’s Halfon’s personal account, from the blog Conservative Home:
I have a special interest in wishing to see the back of Colonel Gaddafi. My late grandfather, Renato Halfon, was a member of a small but thriving community of Italian Tripolitanian Jews who lived in Libya when Gaddafi came to power in the 1960s.
Gaddafi’s henchmen seized all Jewish businesses and homes and my father, along with thousands of other Italian Jews, many from families who had settled in Tripoli hundreds of years earlier, was forced to flee the country penniless.
He had seen the writing on wall and sent my dad, Clement, then 15 years old, to school in the UK shortly before Gaddafi’s coup against King Idris. My grandad followed him a few years later. When anyone asked him why he chose Britain he would say: ‘I sold clothes to the British army in the War – they are the only country that paid on time.’
King Idris was installed as monarch of Libya in 1951 by the British in the aftermath of the Second World War when it gained independence from Italy and the old colonial name of Tripolitania disappeared. A religious Moslem, in the traditional sense, Idris was regarded as a good man, came from Cyrenica in the East of Libya and which borders with Egypt, and was from the respected Sandusi clan.
Both my grandad and dad remembered him fondly. King Idris was benign, not corrupt and cared about his countrymen. But he had one major flaw: he was weak and ineffectual. He reigned but did not rule.