Erdoğan seen as second Omar Mukhtar in Libya, Mukhtar’s son says

April 13, 2012, Friday/ 15:16:00/ TODAY'S ZAMAN

On a visit to Turkey Mohammed Mukhtar, son of the famous Omar Mukhtar -- a national hero in Libya who organized a two-decade resistance to the Italian colonization of the North African country between the 1910s and the 1930s -- said the Turkish Prime Minister is viewed as a second Omar Mukhtar by the Libyan people, a Turkish daily reported.

Mohammed Mukhtar, 90, is the only son of Mukhtar, who was executed by the Italians in 1931. Mohammed Mukhtar, who is in Turkey at the invitation of the Humanitarian Aid Foundation (İHH), told the Star daily on Friday that Turkey sets a model for Libya and other countries to follow.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan visited Libya for the first time in 2009. Mukhtar said that Erdoğan paid a visit to his father's tomb and suggested that the Libyan government erect a monument to his father. As Erdoğan had attended the unveiling of the monument in September 2011, he added that people had shown a great interest in Erdoğan and had given him a warm welcome.

“Erdoğan delivered a touching speech. The fact is that Turkey has always supported the Libyan people,” he said. “Erdoğan is seen as a second Omar Mukhtar for Libyans.” 

He also made comments about the ongoing process of transition in Libya. “Gaddafi ruled the country with an iron fist for a long time. Finally, the Feb. 17 movement appeared as the Libyan people were determined to take control and govern themselves,” he said. “This paved the way for a resistance to Gaddafi, but he didn't take the demands of the people into account. People took my father Omar Mukhtar as a model because they knew that Omar Mukhtar had never bowed either to despotism and oppression or to colonizers,” he added.

Touching on the current situation in the North African country, he underlined that Libya is now a free country and will remain unified and in one piece, in reference to the hopes for decentralization of some groups within the country.

“We never endorse the idea of the disintegration of Libya,” he said, speaking to the same daily, adding that they will do their best to keep the country in one piece.

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