The Rada Special Deterrence Force (SDF), a religious police force that acts for the UN-backed Libyan government, raided the Libya Comic Con on Friday evening, shutting down the convention and arresting the organizers as well as participants.
“Anyone who was wearing a badge” was arrested, according to an account by one of the organizers, who asked to be anonymous, in the Libya Herald. Apparently the police assumed that anyone wearing a badge was an organizer, so participants and visitors were scooped up in the raid. While some of those arrested were released later that night, six members of the organizing committee remained in custody on Saturday. The organizer said that the police had beaten and shaved the heads of some of the attendees who were released, as well as giving them a religious lecture. “They were told that Libya was a Muslim country, not a free/liberal country,” he said.
Asked why they were arrested, the organiser said that they were accused of a number of crimes against public morals and Islam. These included agnosticism, atheism, holding masonic ideas, believing in Halloween, distorting the minds of youth, and kufer (abandoning Islam).
They were also accused of inciting violence through some artwork which depicted knives and violent scenes. Some art work was confiscated as evidence.
The convention was nearing the end of the second day of its planned three-day run at the Dat Al-Imad conference center in Tripoli when the police arrived. Judging from its Facebook page, the convention had been a success until then, with the biggest problem being the lines to get in. The organizer said the Nawasi militia, which is in charge of the venue, had given permission for the convention, and the organizers had signed a contract that included a morals clause. “They said they would remove anything they did not like. We had agreed. They had made no comments to us during the event,” he said.
The SDF posted its rationale on its Facebook page—along with some photos from the convention’s Facebook. Here’s the statement in full, as translated by Facebook’s translation tool:
The Special Deterrent Force has followed up on some social media pages from images of public surprise in a large criticism campaign for some of the people participating in the comic-Con Festival, organized by company and organized by the same.
It is imperative that these negative phenomena be addressed and combated in the direction of the dissemination of pornography and the feeding of adolescent s’ minds and their motivation to kill and use the sharp tools of the parties through famous cartoon drawings.
– such festivals from abroad have taken advantage of the weakness of religious the and awe them with foreign cultures and one of the most important reasons why these phenomena are breaking into our society, abandoning the family’s role and educational role towards their children.
– the organizers and supervisors of this festival have been arrested for their presentation to the public prosecutor’s office for acts of decency and public decency.
Our humanitarian and security responsibility is to contribute to saving our young people who have been affected by these destructive phenomena, we have gathered together with their families and show the reality of these festivals and how their minds are fed to keep them from their original identity and remind them. They are in danger of these phenomena.
American writer and artist David Mack created a special video greeting for the convention, which was posted before it began:
Here are some photos from the convention’s Facebook page.