"I will not leave this place until I achieve one of the two highest levels; martyrdom or victory," he said vigorously when he was asked to accept defeat. He fought last two decades of his life against the Italian colonization in Libya. He easily ignored the temptation of dodging death and becomes the great symbol of resistance struggle. Omar Mukhtar, proudly termed as "Lion of the Desert" (Asad al- Sahra), still remains in the hearts of millions of people across the world even after so many years of his death.
On September 16, 1931, the Italian invaders sentenced him to death. He was 73 at that time. He was executed in front of 20 thousand people. He has received martyrdom surely, but still remains overt to the young generation of Libya as a symbol of resistance against discrimination.
Omar was 53 when the Italian invaders usurped Libya from the almost scattered Ottoman Empire in 1911. The Italian fascist government named Libya invasion under the leadership of Benito Mussolini as `Roman Reconquista` which means `restoring`; restoring the lands which were once under the Roman rule. Omar was very worried about the occupation of their lands which were taken from them forcibly. He declared that resisting such injustice is their God-given right.This incident triggered a series war between the Muslim army under the leadership of Omar Mukhtar and the Italian colonial army.
Because of his guerrilla war skills, strength, courage and enthusiasm, his forces emerged as one of the strongest forces in the world at that time. On the other hand, Omar Mukhtar`s tactics had become a cause for shame for the Italian army occupied with most advanced weaponry.
The number of active cavalry fighters against the Italian tanks and airplanes was only 1000 to 3000. Most of them were equipped with light arms. Their daily routine was defeating or overwhelming Mussolini`s armed forces. They were involved in more than 250 clashes in a year.
After 20 years, he suffered an unexpected hard defeat while preventing European occupying forces. And injured Omar was arrested by Italian colonial forces in 1931. He received alluring offers from the Italian government to lift the resistance while being imprisoned. In response he said, "We will never surrender. We win or we die. And don`t think it stops there. You will have the next generation to fight; and after the next, the next."
The Libyans remember this great leader of their freedom struggle with great reverence. Omar al-Mukhṭar will remain as an inspiration to the freedom loving people from the generations to come.
Bangla Insider/ SM