Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi upset Italian politicians on all sides after his angry comments in response to recent attacks on the Italian Consulate in Benghazi, Libya. According to ANSA, Gaddafi claimed the protests were in support of Libyan demands for reparations from Italy for its period of colonial occupation. He stated to the Libyan People’s Assembly that an attack on the Italian Consulate in Benghazi had little to do with anti-Islamic cartoons printed in Denmark.
Following Gaddafi’s accusations, Italy’s Northern League immediately demanded an apology from political allies and foes who had forced out League minister Roberto Calderoli for wearing a T-shirt bearing the Danish cartoons. The League claimed that Gaddafi’s statement was clear proof that Calderoli’s action had not stoked anti-Italian sentiment in Libya, leading to the attack in which 14 Libyans died in police fire.
However, upon further reading of the full transcript of Gaddafi’s statement, the leader actually accuses minister Calderoli as being a fascist minister who used racist and colonialist language.
Calderoli then asked for apologies from Gaddafi himself. In an effort to quell the discord between the two countries, Foreign Minister Gianfranco Fini insisted that the statements by Gaddafi were no more than an inflammatory speech geared towards his own citizens
Fini announced that Rome’s position on Italy-Libya relations had been restated by the cabinet on February 23. Significant measures were being taken to resolve all questions regarding the colonial period, in exchange for an end to discrimination against Italian refugees who have lost their livelihoods and property.