On November 3rd, the second day of this year’s Libya Comic Con, the convention was raided by RADA Special Deterrence Forces. The SDF arrested more than 20 people during their raid, including attendees, participants, and the convention’s organizers.
According to Facebook posts made by the SDF, they converged on the convention after photos posted on social media from the con caused “a widespread public outpouring of criticism.” They also said that “this sort of festival imported from abroad exploits the weakness in their religious faith and their fascination with foreign cultures.”
A Facebook post by the group, embedded below, mentions a number of crimes that the SDF alleges have been committed by the organizers. These include the “dissemination of pornography” and inspiring young people to kill. To back the latter claim, the group pointed to examples of violence in comics illustrations, some of which were included in the attached photo album.
The SDF is a militia group that supports the UN-backed Government of National Accord in Libya, one of two governments that currently claims sovereignty in the wake of Moammar Gadhafi’s death in 2011.
According to the BBC, Libya Comic Con was given “official permission” for the festival, making the SDF’s actions all the more shocking. An anonymous organizer told the Libya Herald that some of the arrested individuals “had received a beating, had had their head shaved bald and were given a religious lecture.” The organizer added that it seems like the SDF’s intent was to arrest the organizers specifically, but ultimately arrested anyone with a badge because they assumed all of those people were organizers.
The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund’s coverage of the issue includes a screenshot of a post that an attendee made after the convention, providing a firsthand account of the events that unfolded. This post was made on the Libya Comic Con’s official Facebook, which has since been deleted.
As of this report, most of the detained have been released. That said, the SDF said that it will turn over the six organizers of the show to prosecutors for an alleged “attack on morals and modesty” of young people.
“They were told that Libya is a Muslim country not a free/liberal country,” the unnamed organizer said of those arrested and beaten.