By Libya Herald reporter.
Tripoli, 13 April 2015:
The last statue on public display in Tripoli has been removed by the local authorities. A . . .[restrict]bronze lion that has for some years been in a small park in the capital’s central Dahra district has been winched away, supposedly for its safety. The Tripoli authorities say it was necessary to prevent it being destroyed by militant Islamists determined to rid the city of what they claim are un-Islamic objects.
However, the explanation has been greeted with mixed responses since the municipality in Tripoli is viewed as sympathetic to the militants even though the mayor of Central Tripoli, Mahdi Al-Harati, has claimed that he is committed to preserving the city’s history.
The municipality has already removed the bronze statue of two fighting lions from gardens in Zawiat Al-Dahmani, and also says it removed the much-loved Ghazala bronze on the Corniche of a naked women with a gazelle which had earlier had a missile fire into it.
Other statues to have disappeared include that of Libya’s anti-colonial hero, Senussi commander Omar Mukhtar. It had been at Maya, just west of Janzour. Like the Ghazala statue, nothing has since been heard of it.
Harati’s claim abut protecting Tripoli’s heritage did nothing to prevent the destruction by militants two months ago of the mid-19th century Karamanli tombs from the same gardens where the fighting lions used to be seen, even though the tombs no longer contained any human remains. These had been removed two and a half year earlier by other (or possibly the same) militants and reportedly unceremoniously dumped in a pit along with remains from tombs in several of the capital’s historic mosques during a summer orgy of vandalism.
Today’s vanishing bronze was originally one of six that decorated the Italian National War Memorial built on the western side of the Old City in the early 1920s to celebrate the conquest of Libya by the Italians and the only building demolished on the orders of King Idris after independence in 1951. One of the other lions was later taken by Saif Al-Islam Qaddafi and was last heard of in Misrata. The other four are in safe keeping.