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Europeans' views of Qaddafi clash with Western diplomatic moves

Despite recent deals to lure Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi away from his pariah status, many Europeans still see him as a serial human rights violator and 1970s-style Arab dictator.

Libya's Muammar Qaddafi attends a ceremony in Tripoli to celebrate the 40th anniversary of his military coup d'état. Plans for the party include military bands, 400 dancers, aerobatic planes, and fireworks.

Ismail Zetouny/REUTERS

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As Libya's leader Muammar Qaddafi gins up a titanic-sized celebration in Tripoli to honor the 40th anniversary of his coup and his rehabilitation in the West, he's won few hearts and minds among the European public, which still views him largely as a serial human rights violator and 1970s-style Arab dictator.

Especially in light of Mr. Qaddafi's hero's homecoming for the convicted Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi – analysts describe a classic moral clash between a broad public and expert view of Qaddafi as an unrepentant bully at home, and the patient Western diplomatic efforts to bring Libya into the comity of nations.

Arab intellectuals and democrats who deride the caricaturing of Arabs in Western media – say the problem with Qaddafi is that he's so erratic and egocentric that such treatment is credible. Huge signs in Tripoli this week laud Qaddafi, reading "May Glory be Yours, O Maker of Glories."

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