Al Jazeera* quotes a message it received from someone in Britain, commenting on a pro-Sharia demonstration outside the Libyan embassy:
We call them the nutters, because that’s what they are. We are Libyans. we are Muslims… but these people don’t want democracy or freedom. What do they want, dictatorship? We always lived together – Catholics, Greek Orthodox, Jews. And we’re all going to live together again.
It’s a nice sentiment. I do not know about Catholics and Orthodox Christians, but there was indeed a Jewish community in Libya. It was one of the oldest communities in the world. However, virtually all of them fled following pogroms in 1945 and 1948. Gaddafi was a shoolboy at that time. All but a tiny number of those Jews who remained after Libyan independence in 1951 were gone after another round of pogroms following the Six Day War. This was, of course, during the reign of the king whose flag now flies over the “liberated” parts of Libya.
While liberation of Libya from one of the worst tyrants of our time will be a good thing, it will not mean the return to a time of inter-communal harmony, which in any case is largely mythical.
For recent updates on Jewish communities that still exist in the Arab world, the always excellent Point of No Return is highly recommended.
* At its live blog on Libya, Feb. 25, 7:14 p.m. entry.