Muammar Qaddafi's daughter Aisha addressed a crowd of loyalists in Tripoli this morning. It was no sedate affair: The Guardian describes the audience as "akin to a hyped-up football crowd crossed with a rock concert." Aisha told the assembled Libyans that despite what the rebels (and the international community) might want, her father isn't going anywhere. "Gaddafi said if the Libyan people don't want me I don't deserve to live," she said. "The Libyan people responded, 'He who doesn't want you does not deserve life'."
Aisha was speaking today on the 25th anniversary of Operation El Dorado Canyon, the 1986 bombing of Libya that the U.S. carried out after a terrorist attack at a Berlin nightclub. "They rained down on us their missiles and bombs, they tried to kill me and they killed dozens of children in Libya," Aisha told the crowd. "Now a quarter of a century later the same missiles and bombs are raining down on the heads of my and your children." And the audience ate it up, according to The Guardian: "The throbbing crowd ... appeared intoxicated on love and loyalty."
Aisha, Qaddafi's only daughter, hasn't played a prominent role in the ongoing Libya saga, but she's a fascinating figure in her own right. We took a quick look at her background following the reports of the speech. A lawyer by training, she was part of Saddam Hussein's legal defense team and has spoken publicly in support of the IRA. Yet she's also known for her charity work: a Daily Telegraph profile in October noted that Aisha is "involved with a variety of Libyan charities promoting women's rights," especially those that address "domestic violence and honour crimes."
In 2009, the United Nations appointed Aisha the goodwill ambassador of Libya, but they withdrew that designation in February 2011, calling Muammar's actions to that point "totally unacceptable."
Naturally, because Aisha is a woman, she's also been the subject of some coverage that is, let's say, less than completely serious-minded. Last month, the U.K. Daily Mail had a piece on Aisha that spent some time talking about how "glamorous" and "pretty" and "blonde" she is, and how her "flashy outfits have earned her a reputation as 'the Claudia Schiffer of North Africa,'" before getting down to things like air strikes and human rights abuses.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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