NEW YORK (JTA) — Some New Jersey residents are protesting the rumored visit of Libyan dictator Muammar Gadhafi to their state next month.
News that Gadhafi might stay at a private mansion owned by the Libyan government in Englewood, N.J. while attending the opening of the United Nations General Assembly next month has angered locals.
Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) on Monday said the Libyan leader "wasn’t welcome" in the Garden State and requested travel restrictions be put in place limiting him to the U.N. headquarters district.
"I believe the State Department should ensure that Col. Gadhafi’s entry into the United States is for official U.N. business only and does not allow him to travel freely,” Lautenberg wrote to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Englewood Mayor Michael Wildes has also decried the upcoming visit, saying that Englewood residents are "infuriated," according to Reuters.
In recent years the Libyan dictator, who seized power in a coup in 1969, has improved ties with the West and agreed to dismantle his weapons of mass destruction program. However, Western officials were angered last week by Tripoli’s hero’s welcome for Abdel Basset al-Megrahi, the former Libyan intelligence agent convicted in the 1988 Lockerbie bombing of Pan Am Flight 103, who was released from prison in Scotland for humanitarian reasons because he’s reportedly dying of cancer.
"In light of this extremely mixed legacy, the Obama administration should insist on certain parameters before welcoming Gadhafi to the United States," Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, who lives next door to the Libyan-owned mansion where Gadhafi is expected to stay in a tent on the grounds, wrote in an Op-Ed in the Jerusalem Post.