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Gadhafi's daughter: 'My father is a symbol, a guide'

By the CNN Wire Staff
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Daughter: Gadhafi is 'symbol, guide'
  • Ayesha Gadhafi is the Libyan leader's only daughter
  • She says the uprising and NATO campaign have brought her family together
  • "Contrary to what has been said, our family is still very tight," she says
  • Gadhafi's daughter says her father will not step down

(CNN) -- The only daughter of Moammar Gadhafi is standing behind her father, saying he will not step down because he is "a symbol, a guide" for the Libyan people.

"This is his country, his land, his people. Where would he go?," Ayesha Gadhafi, 34, told CNN affiliate France 2 during an interview at her home in Tripoli.

"There is one thing that you don't understand and that you will never understand. It is that my father is a symbol, a guide."

The comments by Gadhafi's daughter come as NATO's bombing campaign crossed the 100-day mark, raising concerns among some that the airstrikes could drag on for months.

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  • Tripoli
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Gadhafi has been under enormous international pressure to step down following a months-long uprising by rebels, emboldened by popular movements across the Middle East, trying to bring an end to his 42-year rule.

The U.N. Security Council approved a resolution in March authorizing force by whatever means necessary, with the exception of a ground invasion, to protect civilians. NATO began bombing military targets a short time later.

Gadhafi's daughter has accused NATO of war crimes for airstrikes targeting her father in Tripoli that resulted in the deaths of her four-month-old daughter, her brother and his two children.

"I am not hiding. I am at home. I live normally," she said in the France 2 interview that aired Thursday. "But you see, I've already lost one of my children and my brother in the bombings. Every day there are members of my people who die. Civilians. Anyone who has a heart can understand what I feel."

Gadhafi's daughter has been a staunch defender of her father and a familiar sight on Libyan State TV. She is believed to have had a hand in keeping the peace among her seven brothers, who have vied over the years for positions of prominence at their father's side.

"Contrary to what has been said, our family is still very tight. These events have brought us closer than ever. There is no division, no difference between us," she said.

"What is being said about it is pure invention."

Ayesha Gadhafi, who studied in France, admonished the French for their participation in the NATO campaign.

"Never would I imagine this country would one day kill my brother and my family," she told France 2.

"Through you, I want to send a message to the wives of the French pilots who bomb us. 'Your husbands are not working to defend civilians in Libya,''' she said.

"They kill my people and our children and for what? To satisfy, (French President Nicolas) Sarkozy, who thinks that the more Libyans he kills, the more votes he gets during elections."

She has been described as a longtime, loud supporter of anti-government groups, standing up for the IRA and Iraqi insurgents. She even joined Saddam Hussein's defense team prior to his being sentenced to death by hanging in Iraq.

When The Telegraph, a London-based newspaper, asked her how she felt about Iraqis who say Hussein slaughtered people, she said: "You are bound to meet people who may be against your policies."

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