Fireworks exploded on the streets of Rusholme last night as Manchester’s Libyan community rejoiced at the news of ex-leader Muammar Gaddafi’s killing.
Hundreds of men, woman and children cried: “There is only one God. There are no stronger people than Libyans.”
Manchester plays home to the UK’s largest Libyan community, many of whom have not visited their homeland in years because of the level of fear that existed under the former regime.
Mabrouk Farrah, a company director from Wigan who travelled to Rusholme to join the celebrations, said: “This means the world to me, we Libyans can now look forward to a new era. I was home two months ago to help the rebels, to help the fight. I think we must thank Mr Cameron and Sarkozy, we would not have liberated Libya without their support for democracy. Now we will stand on our feet.”
Nafisa Madami, a mother from Tripoli who now lives in Manchester, said: “This is the happiest day of my life! But I still have very mixed feelings. Many of my friends were assassinated and 50, 000 were killed for this day.”
Dr Fawzia Ledi, who works at Trafford General Hospital, said: “It’s great, I was at my clinic and my mum phoned me up and told me. I went outside screaming ‘He’s gone, he’s gone!’”
Muhammad Zubia, 15, student, was born in Libya before moving to Spain and then Manchester. He said: “Young people will now be able to look forward to a better future. My dad’s not been back for 12 years because of all the killings - before he left he was shot in the leg twice, just for being against Gaddafi.”
Questions have arisen over whether or not the former tyrant should have been executed or tried for war crimes, but, some would say understandably, the overwhelming opinion on the streets of Rusholme was that this killing was needed in order to close a horrible, 42 year long, chapter.
Dr Amir Barak, Director of Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies at Manchester Metropolitan University, said: “This is another domino falling from the Arab Spring, it all looks very promising on the surface but it is still a very young process and we don’t know what will happen.
"I hope that Mr Cameron and Mr Sarkozy are not simply in it for the quick financial gain and that they will work with the Libyan people in order to achieve democracy as soon as possible. His killing was inevitable, the people wanted an end to the revolution in order to build for a new Libya now.”
The struggle to overthrow Gaddafi took eight months and many lives but now Manchester’s Libyans and those all around the world can look forward to returning home without fear following 42 years of tyrannical rule.