Never one to shy away from a fight, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, leader of Libya, has called for a “jihad” against Switzerland. Tensions have been rising between the two countries since Gaddafi’s son Hannibal was arrested in Geneva in 2008.
“Any Muslim in any part of the world who works with Switzerland is an apostate — is against Muhammad, God and the Quran,” he said, suggesting:
The masses of Muslims must go to all airports in the Islamic world and prevent any Swiss plane landing, to all harbours and prevent any Swiss ships docking, inspect all shops and markets to stop any Swiss goods being sold.
It’s not a classic method of dealing with a nascent diplomatic row, but perhaps it is to be expected. Here are five of Gaddafi’s most interesting moments.
1. Abolishing Switzerland
This is not the first time Switzerland has felt the ire of the “King of Kings”. In September 2009, amid the escalating war of words that led to his latest pronouncement, Gaddafi filed a motion with the UN saying that Switzerland should be abolished and split between France, Italy and Germany.
He first mentioned the idea at the G8 summit in Italy in July, arguing that “Switzerland is a world mafia and not a state”. He specified:
It is formed of an Italian community that should return to Italy, another German community that should return to Germany, and a third French community that should return to France.
2. Italian hostesses
In November 2009, Gaddafi requested 500 beautiful Italian women from a hostess agency, specifying that they must be under the age of 35, over 1.7 metres (5ft 7in) tall, and not wearing revealing clothing.
Some women were turned away for being too short, or inappropriately dressed. Those remaining — approximately 200 — were taken to Gaddafi’s residence, where he proceeded to give them a lecture on Islam, distributing embossed copies of the Quran and his own great work, The Green Book.
Gaddafi works in mysterious ways.
3. UN speech
In September 2009, Gaddafi gave his first ever address to the United Nations General Assembly. The other delegates might have regretted giving him the stage. He was allocated 15 minutes of speech time, but — not to be silenced — spoke for 96 minutes.
While on stage, he tore up a copy of the UN Charter, accused the Security Council of being a “terror council”, and ranted on a wide range of topics, including the location of the UN building (“All of you have jetlag and are physically tired . . . Think about it, why should we continue to meet here in America?”) and the assassination of JFK. His translator reportedly collapsed from exhaustion.
4. Israel/Palestine conflict
In the same speech, Gaddafi called for a single-state solution to the Arab/Israeli conflict (it even has a name — “Isratine”). This is rather a divergence from his previous position:
I cannot recognise either the Palestinian state or the Israeli state. The Palestinians are idiots and the Israelis are idiots.
5. The United States of Africa
Not content with solving the Middle East conflict, Gaddafi also turned his attention to Africa, as the elected president of the African Union.
In February 2009, he used his inaugural address to say: “I shall continue to insist that our sovereign countries work to achieve the United States of Africa.” This would entail a single African military force, a single currency and a single passport for Africans to move within the continent. He did, however, accept that African leaders “were not near to a settlement” on this.
He campaigned vigorously for an unconstitutional second term as AU chief; in January his fellow leaders took less than half an hour to decide to vote him out.