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article imageMass anti-Jewish demonstration planned for Friday, Libya

By Katerina Nikolas     Oct 4, 2011 in World
David Gerbi is the first exiled Libyan Jew to return to Libya. As he began to work on his dream project of restoring Tripoli's main synagogue he was warned that he would be targeted by armed men if he did not leave the area.
When Libyan rebels rose up against the government of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi they purportedly wanted to break free of the oppressive regime, and convinced some Western leaders they were fighting for new freedoms and democracy. The National Transitional Council leader Mustafa Abdel Jalil spoke of wanting a representative democratic government. Exiled Libyan Jew David Gerbi has returned to Libya. According to Al Arabiya he has been working with the NTC to promote their cause in South Africa. He is now applying to become a member of the NTC. Additionally he is intent on restoring Tripoli’s Dar al-Bishi main synagogue.
The Jewish population of Libya was expelled by Gaddafi in 1969, at the height of the Israeli –Arab war. David Gerbi returned to Libya with high expectations that things would be better under the NTC, but their previous welcoming stance appears to have been just rhetoric.
According to the Guardian, as Gerbi arrived at the synagogue to begin clearing debris he was warned “that armed men were coming from all over Libya and would target him if he did not leave the area.” He was also informed that the newly named Martyrs Square in Tripoli is to be the site of a mass anti-Jewish demonstration this Friday. He has now criticized the new leaders of Libya for withdrawing their initial support, calling their ideals of tolerance and democracy into question. Gerbi claims that those who supported him are now distancing themselves.
It is not only the Jewish community that has encountered a lack of tolerance. As the Gaddafi government fell from power in August the Greek Orthodox Community also suffered a set back. The historic Church of St George in Tripoli that dates back to 1647, was ransacked by rebels, Eccleza reported. Valuable items were stolen from the Greek Orthodox Church. The thieves then compounded the desecration by offering to sell the stolen items back to the Church. A small Orthodox Greek community live in Libya and although President of the Community, Demetris Anastasiou, told Hellenes Abroad that living under Gaddafi was akin to living in a police state, he said “On Gaddafi’s term, however, our church was operating freely and procession of the Epitapah was allowed."There are four other Christian communities in Libya: the Coptic Orthodox, the Anglican Church, the Catholic Church and the Uniting. The newly freed Libyan population represented by the NTC has not apparently shown evidence of intolerance towards these groups. They have though demonstrated racial intolerance by targeting black Libyans from Tawergha under accusations of ethnic cleansing.
The NTC has no clear control of the rebel fighters it purports to govern and its own position as a new democratic force is sliding. The leadership refused to take a stand over the issue of Tawergha, saying it was up to the people of Mistrata to deal with, and it now back steps from the support it offered the first exiled Libyan Jew to return to the country.
More about antiJewish, demonstration tripoli, martyrs square, Raphael Luzon, Libyan Jewish exiles
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