x

Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 11 December 2018

Armed group shuts down Libya Comic Con for 'attack on morals'

Members of the Deterrence Force seized computers and arrested organisers at the venue in Tripoli

Youngsters gather at a face-painting booth during the Libya Comic Convention in Tripoli on November 2, 2017. Mahmud Turkia / AFP
Youngsters gather at a face-painting booth during the Libya Comic Convention in Tripoli on November 2, 2017. Mahmud Turkia / AFP

An armed group allied to Libya's UN-backed government has closed a comic-book convention in Tripoli and detained the organisers for an "attack on morals and modesty".

Hundreds of young Libyans attended the city's second Comic Con festival that opened last week, including some dressed up as their favourite heros from American comic books and Japanese manga.

But on Friday members of the Deterrence Force - a group of mainly conservative Islamists that acts as the police for the UN-backed government - entered the venue, seized computers and arrested organisers, a participant said.

The group said the organisers would be handed over "to prosecutors for an attack on morals and modesty" as 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," the group said in a statement posted on Facebook.

Comic Con began in 1970 as a convention of a few dozen fans who swapped superhero magazines in the United States.

The event has grown in size and spread around the world, including to conservative countries such as Saudi Arabia.

Libya has been wracked by conflict since the fall of dictator Muammar Qaddafi in 2011 and the country 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.