Libya’s second Comic Con event was brought to a sudden end on Friday when an Islamist paramilitary group raided it, citing a range of offences against Islam.
According to this report, the so-called RADA Special Deterrence Forces (SDF) paramilitary group detained and assaulted some 20 fans. They also seized computers and other equipment, saying that Libya “was not a free/liberal country”.
An anonymous organiser said:
They arrested over 20 people. Organisers, participants and visitors. Anyone who was wearing a badge, including visitors, were arrested.
The second Libyan Comic Con opened in Tripoli the day before, bringing together local comic book lovers who dressed up as their favourite heroes.
The organiser added that the militants told the detainees that they were “rescuing” the youth from Comic Con, an event they called “destructive” and “foreign” to Islam and Libya, and that they had committed large number of crimes against public morals. These included agnosticism, atheism, masonic ideas, believing in Halloween, distorting the minds of youth and even abandoning Islam altogether.
An SDF statement read.
This sort of festival imported from abroad exploits the weakness in their religious faith and their fascination with foreign cultures.
The purported dangers include “dissemination of pornography” and even encouraging young people to use “sharp tools and kill”.
As evidence, the statement cited artworks depicting violent scenes.
The SDF had no problem with real violence, though. The organiser said:
Some of those who were released had received a beating, had had their head shaved bald and were given a religious lecture. They were told that Libya was a Muslim country not a free/liberal country.
The Comic Con movement began in the United States in the 1970s as a convention of a small number of fans who exchanged superhero magazines in San Diego, California. The event has spread around the world since then, making it even to such ultra-conservative countries as Saudi Arabia for the first time this year.
The Saudi event ran into a spot of bother though, having been accused by the General Authority for Entertainment of an unspecified “violation”. It said:
The General Authority for Entertainment regrets the violation committed by the organisers of the Comic-Con event.
The authority added that its priority is:
Safeguarding values, morals and traditions.
The authority in turn was slammed by Hussein Al-Sheikh, the imam of the Prophet’s Mosque, for allowing the event to take place to begin with.
We were astonished by the hideous act of the Entertainment Authority, by these events held in Jeddah that are not in line with good behaviour or our great religion … It is a duty upon officials to consider God in these actions.
• The photo used at the top of the page was taken at Libya’s first Comic Con event.