Libya marked the 20th anniversary of a deadly US air attack with a middle-of-the-night public concert featuring 1980s US soul-pop crooner Lionel Richie and Spanish tenor Jose Carreras.
“Hana would be happy tonight,” said Richie during his performance, referring to the adopted daughter of Libyan leader Muammar Qadhafi who was among the 40 slain in the 1986 air strikes on the main cities of Tripoli and Benghazi.
One member of the audience climbed onstage to dance with Richie, whose hits “All Night Long,” “Say You, Say Me,” and “Dancing on the Ceiling” were being heavily played on US radio airwaves around the time then-president Ronald Reagan authorized the strike.
Reagan had famously called Qadhafi the “Mad Dog” of the Middle East in his justification of the US bombings, but Libya has since warmed relations with the West by officially renouncing its weapons of mass destruction program.
“Today, we have bandaged our wounds, but we will not forget,” said Qadhafi’s daughter, Aisha, at the opening of the concert, which began on Saturday at 2:30 am, the exact hour at which US warplanes flying out of British bases hit their targets 20 years ago. “We want to launch an appeal for peace and against destruction,” she said.
The concert was held in Port Azizia near the ruins of the Libyan leader’s residence, targeted by the attacks. The ruins have never been removed. Attendees lit candles and chanted patriotic slogans in advance of the concert, titled the “Hana Festival for Freedom and Peace.” No official attendance estimates were available. [source]