Lights out for movie houses in Libya's 'Mermaid of Med'

GMT 08:04 2015 Friday ,04 September

Arab Today, arab today Lights out for movie houses in Libya's 'Mermaid of Med'

Abandoned al-Zahraa cinema theatre
Tripoli - Arab Today

The Libyan capital once boasted grand movie houses that packed in smartly dressed couples for a special night out, but how times have changed.

Today, the sole major cinema left in Tripoli is a men-only zone stripped of glamour, offering a diet of violence-packed films and blunt warnings that women are not welcome.

And the city's old epithet, "Mermaid of the Mediterranean", jars sharply with what has become a mainly Islamist-run capital of a country plagued by conflict and political chaos.

The rot started even before the 2011 revolution that ousted longtime dictator Moamer Kadhafi, and has since seen movie houses bolt their doors one after the other.

Today's lone silver screen is the Omar al-Khayyam, where a sign tells women to stay away: "Access is formally banned because there are people who indulge in acts contrary to customs and religion."

Films full of blood and violence like "Scarface" and "Die Hard" pass muster with the militias that have controlled the city since August 2014, driving Libya's elected parliament and internationally recognised government to take refuge in the far east of the country.


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