World / Social Issues

The Deterrence Force crashes Libya’s Comic Con and seizes organizers for alleged ‘attack on morals’


An armed Libyan group said Saturday it had closed a comic book convention in Tripoli and detained the organizers for an “attack on morals and modesty” in the strife-ridden country.

Hundreds of young Libyans on Friday flocked to the opening of the city’s second Comic Con festival, including some dressed up as their favorite heros from American and Japanese comic books.

Later in the day, members of the Deterrence Force — a group of mainly conservative Islamists that acts as the police for the U.N.-backed government — entered the venue, seized computers and arrested the organizers, a participant said.

The group said those responsible for the event would be handed over “to prosecutors for an attack on morals and modesty” because they looked to prey on youths in the city.

“This sort of festival imported from abroad exploits the weakness in their religious faith and their fascination with foreign cultures,” said a statement posted on Facebook.

Comic Con began in 1970 as a convention for a few dozen fans who swapped superhero magazines in the United States. The event has since grown in size and spread around the world, including to ultra-conservative Saudi Arabia.

Libya has been wracked by conflict since the fall of dictator Moammar Gadhafi in 2011 and now has two rival governments: a United Nations-backed one in the west and a rival administration backed by a military strongman in the east.

Hundreds of different militia groups have stepped in to impose their authority in the security vacuum.