x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Police break up Libya protests in Dubai

Protests against Muammar Qaddafi outside the Libyan Consulate in Dubai became heated when a female pro-Qaddafi supporter arrived at the scene.

UPDATE: Anti-Qaddafi protesters disbanded by Dubai police

DUBAI // Protests against Muammar Qaddafi outside the Libyan Consulate in Dubai became violent when a female pro-Qaddafi supporter arrived at the scene.

When the woman began shouting pro-Qaddafi slogans, she was set on by other female protesters. Police were forced to intervene.

The pro-Qaddafi protester has been removed from the scene.

Riot police arrived at the consulate and the gates to the compound were locked, sealing in the protesters and preventing more from joining in.

The protesters, who had been peaceful up until this incident, began shouting: “The traitors needs to get out”. They also removed the flag from the top of the consulate building.

Ilham Bashir, a 23-year-old university student, said: “This flag is the flag of Qaddafi. It does not represent us. That is why we have removed it.”

In its place, they have hoisted the old Libyan flag: a green, black and red standard featuring a white crescent moon and star. The crowd has said they will stay outside the consulate until the Libyan regime falls. Protesters began to gather at 10.45 this morning, calling for an end to ongoing violence in Libya.

Some 30 to 40 protesters gathered at first, shouting slogans like “The blood of our martyrs will not go wasted” and “Tell Muammar and his sons: Libya has men”.

By 2pm, the crowd numbered more than 100 men and women of all ages, and protestors announced they would not go until Muammar Qaddafi was removed from power.

Plain-clothed police officers and Dubai Police were on the scene, telling the crowd they understood they were upset about their hometown, but urging them to keep calm and remain peaceful. At one point, protesters entered the Libyan consulate, removed a portrait of Muammar Qaddafi from the walls, took it outside and smashed it on the ground. None of the consulate staff were inside at the time.

“We are here to support the people of Libya,” said Besher al Fitouri, 40, a student at Dubai School of Government. “We are calling on the UAE Foreign Ministry to officially condemn the action taken against the people of Libya.”

Libyan Yousef Omar, 23, a businessman from Benghazi, also took part in the protest. “The world cannot remain silent,” he said.

“These human rights violations must be stopped.” The chanting stopped twice as protesters lined up together to offer prayers for Libya.

Emotions ran high once the morning round of prayers were over: one man collapsed sobbing, while another was seen sitting on the pavement crying.

Several protesters said they had family members and friends who had been killed in the Libya uprising. Since protests against government corruption began in Libya on February 17, an estimated 300 people have been killed by pro-Qaddafi opposition forces.

wissa@thenational.ae

• More on the Middle East unrest