On 3 November 2017, Libya’s RADA Special Deterrent Forces (military police) shut down comic book convention Comic Con held in capital Tripoli and arrested the organisers of the event, as the armed group saw the event to be a violation of public morality, reported France 24 and BBC News.
On the same day, the military police published a statement on their Facebook page stating that photos of event participants published on social media caused “a widespread public outpouring of criticism”, which led them to shut down the event, further stating:
“It is necessary to address these destructive phenomena and fight them because these famous cartoons encourage the dissemination of pornography, influence teenagers and motivate them to kill and use sharp tools. Such festivals, inspired from abroad, exploit the weakness of religious faith and their fascination with foreign cultures. The organisers and supervisors of this festival have been arrested and will be presented to the Public Prosecution for their acts of dishonesty and violation of public morality.”
One of the event organisers told the Libya Herald that over 20 people were arrested, including visitors who were wearing badges as part of the event and were mistaken for being organisers. According to the eyewitnesses, some of those arrested were released the same evening; however six of the main organisers remained under arrest at the time and were being held under numerous charges, including violating morality and Islam, and incitement to violence due to some artwork featuring violent scenes and weapons. Some artwork was also reportedly confiscated.
In a 7 November statement, the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) expressed its concern about the arrest and shut down, and called for the immediate release of those detained, saying that “freedom of expression and peaceful assembly are fundamental to human rights”, reported Almotawaset.
The RADA Special Deterrence Forces are the Interior Ministry’s conservative Islamist military police unit tasked with tackling crime.