Libya: Sporting and cultural life returns to Derna after years of terrorism

North Africa

The coastal Libyan city of Derna, which had for several years been a hotspot for terrorism and extremism, is breathing new life as local people enjoy sporting and cultural activities once again.

In the city of Derna, sporting and cultural events are returning after being halted for a few years by terrorism. Following the collapse of the previous regime in 2011 the city fell into chaos with various militias and militant organisations taking control of the city.

In October 2014, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) took over the city enforcing their strict rule over its citizens. In June 2016, a rival militant group, the Derna Mujahideen Shura Council, took control of the city, only to enforce their own puritanical and vicious rule. During these two groups’ rule, the citizens of the city suffered immensely from terrorism and injustice.

In July 2018, the Libyan National Army (LNA) led by Field Marshall Khalifa Haftar retook the city from the Derna Mujahideen Council, freeing the residents from their brutal rule. The capture of Derna, which was a strategic capture, signaled the end of terrorist organisations’ control over territory in Libya.

Since the recapture of Derna, the city has begun to steadily return to normal after its 7-year absence. The city’s National Theatre has offered many cultural and social activities with many residents of the city attending.

The city’s football stadium, which was once an area for ISIS’ executions, has also been rehabilitated. Local football and other sports teams use the stadium to practice the sports that ISIS and the Mujahideen Council once banned. Tourist resorts, swimming pools, and other entertainment facilities have reopened to serve the city’s residents.

Citizens have expressed their happiness with these activities, which signal a return of life to their city.

Throughout the countries, Libyans have been attempting to revive their cultural and religious heritage after relative stability has returned to their cities.

Due to this stability, the international community hopes that the leaders of Libya will reach reconciliation agreements and agree to hold elections summer of 2019.