The first placard I saw was not about Libya at all. It read: “Our hearts go out to the victims of the Christchurch earthquake.” The vigil began with a minutes silence for the people of Christchurch.
Baha Mabruk, who initiated the event, said he had just been phoned from Libya by his sister, who lives in a town now liberated by the people, and the first thing she did was express her concern for the people of Christchurch.
I delivered a little speech in solidarity with the Libyan people’s efforts to topple the dictator, which is now at a critical stage, and also greeted the Moroccans and Iranians who had also turned up to the protest.
I explained the historic significance of the pro-democracy protests now raging across the region – from Rabat to Tehran.
Coincidentally, at the very time the Christchurch earthquake hit I was had just received acceptance from other political parties for a motion to be moved that afternoon in Parliament, reading: “That this House endorse the efforts of the Arab people to make their countries more open and democratic, with truly representative governments; and appeal to those currently in power in the region to respond to the calls for change in a positive and non-violent manner.”
Of course, the earthquake rightly overtook all other parliamentary business, and Parliament has adjourned until March 8. But I consider that my motion was passed in spirit.