Libyans in Leeds street protest

Libyan Community demonstration at Leeds University.
Libyan Community demonstration at Leeds University.
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LIBYANS took to the streets in Leeds in support of the revolution which is taking place in their country.

The city is home to a community of about 300 Libyans, including students and researchers at the city’s universities, and their families.

Some have lost family members in the uprising.

One man, who did not want to be named, claimed in the last week 11 members of his extended family have been killed in the Libyan capital Tripoli, one of the Gaddafi regime’s last strongholds.

Among the Leeds Libyan community is Osama Tashani, a researcher at Leeds University.

He was born in Benghazi, Libya’s second city, in the east of the country, and one of the first to declare itself “liberated” from Gaddafi’s rule.

The 52-year-old is an Associate Professor at the University of Tripoli and is on long-term sabbatical leave to carry out research at Leeds University.

Mr Tashani said: “We know Gaddafi is a brutal dictator but it was a shock when he shot his own people. Even his own people were shocked and have changed sides.

“I spoke to a member of the Revolutionary Committee. He believed in Gaddafi. The next day his brother was shot in the protests. He went crazy. He did not expect his hero Gaddafi to shoot his own people.

“In Leeds most Libyans are against Gaddafi, with a few exceptions because a few think he may still survive and could do something against their families.

“Libya is basically a tribal society and values like loyalty are very, very high. This makes some citizens very scared to speak to the Press.

“But I can tell you that all of them have come to us in private telling us ‘we are with you, but it is difficult’.”

Yesterday the community demonstrated outside Leeds Civic Hall.

Mr Tashani said: “This is by Libyans living and studying in Leeds to show support for the February 17 Revolution, showing that Libyans inside and outside Libya are against Gaddafi and the current regime, either Gaddafi or his sons.”

He added: “We want support from Libyans living here who have lost their loved ones, who are afraid. We have not experienced anything like this before. Nothing like this has happened in Libya even under Gaddafi.”

“We want local government and the universities in Leeds to support us.”

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