Armed group detains Libya Comic Con organizers for ‘attack on morals’

Libyans gather at a stall selling posters the Libya Comic Convention in Tripoli on November 2. Members from 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 organizers. (AFP)
Updated 04 November 2017
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Armed group detains Libya Comic Con organizers for ‘attack on morals’

TRIPOLI: A Libyan armed 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 comic books and Japanese manga.
Later in the day members from 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 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” 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,” said a statement posted on Facebook.
Comic Con began in 1970 as a convention of a few dozen fans who swapped superhero magazines in the US.
The event has grown in size and spread around the world, including to 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.


Egypt’s street iftar comes with a community flavor

Updated 57 min 17 sec ago
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Egypt’s street iftar comes with a community flavor

  • Christian clerics in Egypt organize annual Muslim iftar meals to encourage national unity

CAIRO: Hardly a street in Egypt is without its iftar table as families organize “mercy meals” for friends, relatives and neighbors during Ramadan.

A tradition that began to help the poor has been extended to include entire streets and neighborhoods, giving residents and friends a chance to meet, share old memories and instil community values in their children.

In Cairo, people compete to organize large iftar tables laden with food items.

Each year Moataz Aburiyeh plans an iftar table for friends and neighbors in the capital’s central Abdin area.

“I consider it a great opportunity to see a lot of friends and talk about everything,” 38-year-old Aburiyeh told Arab News.

The table contains all kinds of food. “On the table is meat, chicken, rice, salad and other items. I know the family and neighbors’ preferences and I meet their taste,” said Aburiyeh, who owns a men’s clothing store.

Meanwhile, residents in Umm Reza, a village west of Cairo, organized an iftar table to gather all the people of the village for the second year in a row.

School teacher Khaled Kamal, who was behind the idea, said: “I suggested to residents that they gather during Ramadan and everyone welcomed the idea.”

Villagers donated money for the gathering until they had raised more than 10,000 Egyptian pounds ($600).

“We let all the people of the village, including Christians, share the meal,” said Kamal.

Another villager, Sayed Fouad, said: “The iftar was well organized and included hot meals consisting of meat, rice, vegetables, salad, pickles and damietta sweets.”

National unity

For the past five decades, Christian clerics in Egypt have organized annual Muslim iftar meals to encourage national unity.

In the 1970s, the Coptic religious brotherhood began hosting Ramadan meals for Muslims, a move that was followed by the Justice and Peace association a decade later.

Pope Shenouda, the Coptic Orthodox Pope of Alexandria, promoted iftar meals to strengthen the church’s connection with the Egyptian nation.

The Church of the Palace of Dupara in Tahrir Square in central Cairo has been organizing a breakfast table for several years, attended by Muslim and Christian leaders. The church is being supervised by a number of young men and women.

Coptic scholar Robert Al-Fares said: “The Christians of Egypt are organizing iftar to show that society has returned to a period of friendship and unified spirit.

“This is a positive phenomenon that confirms the end of a dark era of division between sects and religions,” he said, referring to the rule of the Muslim Brotherhood in 2012 and 2013.

“Egyptians have returned to their normal state after a period of radicalization by extremists who sought to destroy the culture of tolerance and acceptance between Egyptian people,” Al-Fares said.