Omar al-Mukhtar : The lion of the desert

Sheikh Mujahedeen, Omar al-Mukhtar. Photo : RR

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NEWSROOM (ADV) – Omar al-Mukhtar (1860-1931), national hero of Libya called The Lion of the Desert, known among the colonial Italians as Matari of the Mnifa was the leader of native resistance in Cyrenaica, currently Eastern Libya under the Senussids, against the Italian colonization of Libya. A teacher-turned-general, Omar was also a prominent figure of the Senussi movement, and he is considered the national hero of Libya and a symbol of resistance in the Arab and Islamic worlds.

When the Italians openly attacked Senussi in the spring of 1923 (at the end of April the existing agreements were formally denounced) Omar was among the most competent and active figures in organizing and coordinating the resistance. In his capacity as representative of the Senussi he had assumed command of the guerrilla forces that often baffled and confounded the regular Italian forces.

Mukhtar’s struggle of nearly twenty years came to an end on 11 September 1931, when he was wounded in battle near Slonta, and then captured by the Italian army. On 16 September 1931, on the orders of the Italian court and with Italian hopes that Libyan resistance would die with him, Mukhtar was hanged before his followers in the POW camp of Suluq at the age of 73 years.

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