x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Muammar Gaddafi says his name is a shame

Sudanese man says his father named him in honour of a liberation leader, but now he's lost all respect for his namesake. With video

Muammar Gaddafi, who wants to legally change his name, poses at his home Fujairah.
Muammar Gaddafi, who wants to legally change his name, poses at his home Fujairah.

KHOR FAKAN // It must have seemed a good idea at the time: naming your son after a brave young Arab visionary who seized power in a bloodless coup.

But times change and yesterday's rebel leader - albeit one with more than a dash of eccentricity - can easily become today's despot. Which is why the man who once enjoyed bearing the name Muammar Gaddafi Mohammed is now desperate to change his moniker.

Once a fan of the Libyan leader, Mr Mohammed, from Sudan, admits he is now ashamed of his name. "I want to change it in support of the people of Libya," he says. "I have many friends who are suffering there. Before I liked him, but now I cannot have this name because of what he is doing over there."

Mr Mohammed was born in Sudan in 1970, a year after Colonel Muammar Qaddafi seized power.

"My father admired Qaddafi and so did his friends and when I was born he gave me the name Muammar Gaddafi as a sign of respect for the man," says Mr Mohammed, who is a ship's captain and marine superintendent.

"Growing up with the name was humorous and helpful. When I moved to Libya after high school and applied to the Naval Academy there, I was given a full scholarship by the Libyan government. I think it was because of my name."

Mr Mohammed studied many of Col Qaddafi's teachings and read a number of books he published including The Green Book, in which the Libyan leader outlined his political philosophy.

"I had great admiration for the man," he says.

But that all changed when he saw Col Qaddafi's speech to the Libyan people on the Al Jazeera television network. "At first, I saw Saif's speech in which he threatened to slaughter Libyan citizens," the marine superintendent recalls.

"I was shocked. I expected Col Qaddafi would spank Saif and apologise for what his son said, but he didn't.

"He came on television and said things worse than his son did. Then when the slaughter began, I was appalled. I knew then that I had to change my name."

Mr Mohammed says he still hasn't chosen a new name for himself. "That's the hardest thing of all - picking a name for myself.I am thinking of naming myself after another Arab leader, one who is revered, one whose soul is prayed for every day. I may name myself Zayed."

The logistics of changing his name will be no small matter. "I have to visit the Sudanese Embassy and apply for a name change. I will also have to change the names of my children to bear my new name.

"This could all take years," he says. "But the trouble is worth it. The Libyan people are worth it."

EAlGhalib@thenational.ae