Former Libyan rebels widely supported by the West in their fight against late leader Colonel Gaddafi are now turning against their allies, attacking their war graves and smashing Christian symbols with hammers.
Deep shock and outrage are the reactions in the Western world after former Libyan rebels in Benghazi attacked and desecrated a WWII cemetery of those who “liberated” them from Gaddafi’s “tyranny”.
A video apparently posted on the internet by the attackers shows them kicking and destroying tombstones of British and Italian soldiers who fell during the deadliest war of the 20th century.
Those who recently begged for NATO’s help to destroy the regime have now taken down crucifixes and smashed headstones with hammers at the Benghazi War Cemetery. Over 200 tombstones were damaged.
There is speculation that this was done to punish NATO, or the US, for American soldiers burning numerous copies of the Koran in Afghanistan, an act which provoked violent riots by Muslims.
More than 1,000 soldiers and airmen from all over the world – British, French, Congolese, Vietnamese, German, Italian, Polish, American – lost their lives in the desert during the Second World War. Their war graves were carefully preserved by the regime of Colonel Gaddafi. But the video footage, shot in broad daylight, shows how cruelly and shamelessly they were vandalized by the very people who were brought to power by the West.
The new Libyan leadership has apologized for the act of vandalism. The National Transitional Council (NTC) has said it "deeply regrets" and "strongly condemns" the attacks, vowing “to prosecute those involved.”
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission insists that “both cemeteries will be restored to a standard befitting the sacrifice of those commemorated at Benghazi.”
Meanwhile, the NTC has not managed to move the country in a direction towards improvement, with some analysts saying the Council is more “a media show” than a real source of power. Clashes between pro- and anti-Gaddafi forces have expanded into clashes between tribes. The “liberated” country has begun to see scenes of hate crimes, especially against national minorities. In one instance, a video recently posted online shows former rebels torturing a group of black Africans, treating them like zoo pets.