September 1st 1969: Gaddafi’s coup
On this day in 1969 a coup put Muammar Gaddafi in power in Libya. Whilst Colonel Gaddafi served in the Libyan military he led revolutionaries who toppled King Idris, and when in power he dissolved the monarchy. Gaddafi believed strongly in Arab nationalism and Islamic socialism. He made Islamic shariah law the basis of Libya’s legal system. Gaddafi’s regime violated the human rights of Libyan citizens, such as his open use of torture. When, after 42 years, forces opposed to his rule led an uprising in 2011 and NATO intervened to support anti-Gaddafi forces, his government was toppled. Gaddafi himself was killed by rebels whilst hiding in Sirte in October 2011.
On this day last year, US Representative Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona’s 8th district and 18 other people were shot at a public meeting near Tucson, Arizona. 6 people died, including Arizona District Court Chief Judge John Roll, and a 9 year old girl who had been born on 9/11. The gunman was Jared Lee Loughner, whose motives remain unclear and who was ruled medically unfit to stand trial in May 2011.
Giffords had been holding a meet and greet for constituents called ‘Congress on Your Corner’ in a supermarket parking lot. Loughner shot Giffords through the head at point blank range before opening fire on others. Giffords was taken to hospital and operated on to extract skull fragments and removed a section of her skull to reduce pressure from swelling.
A year on, Giffords has returned home and is undertaking speech, physical and occupational therapy. She is able to speak some sentences, can walk without a cane and can write with her left hand. She still does not have full use of her right side and has lost 50% of her vision in both eyes. However, on August 1st she was able to return to the House of Representatives to vote on raising the debt limit ceiling. She recieved a standing ovation and praise from her fellow members of Congress. Giffords vows to return full time to Congress.
Tonight she and her husband, astronaut Mark Kelly, will return to Tucson for a candlelight vigil to remember the victims of that day.