By Tom Midlane
Manchester’s Libyan community gathered in Piccadilly Gardens last night to celebrate mother’s day in Libya and protest against Colonel Gaddafi’s continued rule.
A crowd of around sixty attended the protest, conducted in Arabic and English, which included speakers, poets and singing, and ended with a rendition of the Libyan national anthem before protestors chanted anti-Gaddafi slogans.
The event, organised by sisters Zakiea, Farehd and Fadwa Altaib, was intended to mark mother’s day in the Arab world, and pay tribute to mothers who have lost children during the recent rebellions.
The statue of Queen Victoria in Piccadilly Gardens was draped in traditional Libyan clothing, as children waved the Libyan flag and held signs depicting the faces of children killed or disappeared by the Gaddafi regime.
Essa Sultan, 18, a student at William Hughes Grammar School, said: “Some mothers have lost more than one son to this regime.
"I think it’s important that they understand that their sons have died as heroes, they’ve died to save the country, they’ve died for freedom and to help us get rid of this tyrant that has forced the country to live in misery for 42 years.”
Miss Sultan added: “We want to show the Libyans over there that maybe we are far away but our hearts are very close to theirs and we are with them.“
Mrs Fortia, 49, from the Libyan city of Misurata, who had not been able to contact her family in Libya for the last three days, said: “This day is mother’s day in our country, these mothers have lost their children, we just want to be with them and show our respect.”
SHOW OF SUPPORT: Three sisters Zakiea, Farehd and Fadwa Altaib who organised the event