London erupted into protests against the deployment of U.K. forces to the Libyan conflict.
When NATO launched Operation Odyssey Dawn and coalition forces took to the ground in Libya, the Libyan people were pleased. However, back in the coalition countries the situation was not the same.
In France, Sarkozy was grilled for sending French troops into harm’s way, and back in the United States President Obama was besieged by members of both the House and Senate, demanding to know how the intervention in Libya was in the U.S.’ interest. Across the pond, the reaction was even more intense.
The streets of London are no strangers to protest and general chaos. Protests on a much larger scale occurred with the introduction of austerity measures intended to rein in spending as a response to the global economic crisis, and every four years the streets are packed full of world cup enthusiasts.
On March 30 alone, over 500,000 people gathered together to protest the austerity measure. However, while smaller, the round of protests centering on Libya is not insignificant.
Former MP George Galloway and current MP Jeremy Corbyn gathered an anti-war crown outside of 10 Downing Street, the traditional residence of the U.K.’s Prime Minister, currently Conservative David Cameron, to protest Britain’s involvement in Libya.
Both denounced the coalition action in Libya, but supported the popular uprisings against totalitarian regimes, and both also criticized the Arab League, whose support of the no-fly zone was crucial to Operation Odyssey Dawn.
Galloway is a known quantity in the United States, and in 2005 he appeared before the U.S. Senate to address accusations that he had derived profit from a U.N. oil-for-food program.
There were other protest that supported the other side of the argument. Many people, including ethnic Libyans, took to the streets to show their support for the rebel forces that seek to remove Colonel Moammar Gaddafi, Libya’s oppressive ruler.
Franny Sadler, a student at the University of London, has dual-citizenship and has lived in America for the majority of her life.
“I feel that we must support our troops, both U.S. and U.K. troops,” Sadler said. “Even if some people here are discontented, we have an ethical obligation to step in. Some people don’t wish for us to put our citizens at risk. But if not us, who?”
One popular site of protest was the Libyan embassy in London. Five men were especially iconic in their protesting.
The five individuals scaled the walls of the Libyan embassy, and used the roof of the embassy as their protest site.
This was declared unlawful by Libyan officials, as the embassy is sovereign Libyan territory upon which the five men were trespassing.
However, the men managed to continue speaking in support of the Libyan rebels for over 37 hours before they were forced to climb down. Libyan officials then took them into custody.
While atop the embassy, the five men took down the Libyan flag and replaced it with a flag that predates Gadhafi, showing their rejection of Gadhafi as a legitimate ruler of Libya.
As of now, the five individuals are under arrest for trespassing on Libyan soil. Protests continue, and will likely persist until the coalition action in Libya is brought to a close.
Contact Drew Sarros at firstname.lastname@example.org.