The Italian media said that during the meeting between Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi and President Obama, this last one was curious to know how was the visit of the Libyan Leader Muammar Gaddafi to Rome. The word to describe is extravagant.


Gaddafi took three Airbuses to freight his 400-strong entourage to Rome. As always, he brought with him a giant Bedouin tent which was placed in the Villa Pamphili Park in the center of the capital, where he conducted his business. However, even though there was no sign of the camel he took on a visit to Paris in 2007, he gave PM Berlusconi three camels as a gift.

Gaddafi, 68, started his show from the very inset of his state visit. When he came down from the plane, the media noticed immediately a suspiciously dark and luxuriant tangle of rock star hair, tinted glasses and a sparkling uniform to which was pinned a photograph of a Libyan anti-colonialist fighter, Omar Al-Mukhtar, hung by the Italians in 1931. Furthermore, a black cane was tucked under his arm, and around him swarmed a hand-picked troupe of female armed bodyguards, “Killer Virgins”, whose terms of employment apparently include a solemn vow of chastity.

During the visit - that was harshly criticized by Italian opposition parties - the “Brotherly Leader and Guide of the Revolution” sent shockwaves of embarrassment when he accused the United States of being “terrorists like Bin Laden”. Also, in an ambitious analogy to the days of the Roman Empire, Gaddafi went on to find justification for terrorism and dictatorships, launching into a fierce attack to the US. In short, he said that Saddam Hussein had been elected by the Iraqis. It was an internal matter so why had someone from outside decided to remove him from power?


Then, as if that were not enough, during a meeting at the University La Sapienza he said that we should stop havening political parties, as “party politics is an abortion of democracy”. During the Q&A, someone asked when there would be in Libya free elections. The answer was: “Democracy is an Arab word, which was read in Latin”. Actually, the word democracy is a Greek one, which means demos (people) and kratos (power). But Gaddafi had another etymology of the word. “Demos is Arabic means people and crazi mean chair. It means that the people want to seat on the chairs”. Hence: “If we are in this room we are the people, that sit on the chairs, and this should be called democracy, i.e. the people sit on the chairs. But if we take these people and we tell them to go out, and instead we take ten persons to have them sit here, chosen by the people that are outside…this would not be democracy. This would be called ten-cracy. Or better ten people sitting on the chair. […] Until the whole people won’t it on the chairs, this will not be democracy”. He then wished that also Italy one day could reach this type of democracy.


However, the main headache he gave during his visit was the continuous delay. As in all of his meetings, Gaddafi has been late. Even when he met the President of the Italian Republic, Giorgio Napolitano, he was half an hour late. But when after a two hour delay he didn’t show up at his rendezvous at the Italian Parliament, the speaker of the House Gianfranco Fini, calling the delay "unjustified", and called the meeting off; getting a bi-partisan applause from the MPs.

Gaddafi was also an hour late for his audience with prominent Italian women from the fields of business, politics and culture. Nonetheless, he entered the gathering at Rome's concert hall to loud applause, and was introduced by Italy's Equal Opportunities Minister Mara Carfagna, a former beauty queen.

Gaddafi spoke about the condition of women in Europe and Africa with some of his trademark female bodyguards standing by. "In society I think there is complete equality between men and women," he told the audience, which included some women who were carrying posters of him. "The European woman has arrived where she is today, driving trains and buses, she sleeps in hotels, and so formally she is emancipated. “But”, he added, “this wasn't because of her free choice or development, but because she was forced by necessity." he added. Although the comment drew boos from many of the women present, other remarks were met by applause and laughter.

PM Berlusconi, who looked remarkably sober alongside his extravagantly outfitted counterpart, has prided himself on working out key deals - including the reparations agreement, access to Libyan oil resources, and joint efforts to combat illegal immigration - with the often unpredictable Gaddafi. The two traded gifts of jewelry and silver, and Gaddafi declared that Berlusconi would make a great Libyan president -- an appreciation Berlusconi might have eagerly done without. Gaddafi then also stated that now the two countries could put aside the past and look ahead to the future, as Italy agreed to pay $5 billion over 20 years in compensation for its colonialist era in Libya, marking the end of two decades of animosity Libya and Italy.

Gaddafi finally went back to Libya this time, curiously, two hours ahead of schedule.



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