Derna: Boy scouts step in to help run city after Isis is driven out of Libyan stronghold

The city is re-establishing normal life after Isis – and scouts are picking up the slack

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The Independent Online

Returning to life as normal after months under the rule of Isis militants can seem an impossible task – but help is at hand from an unlikely source in the Libyan city of Derna.

A stronghold for the so-called “Islamic State” in the northeast of the country since October last year, Derna’s residents overthrew the militants around two weeks ago with the help of a rival militia group, the Abu Sleem Martyrs Brigade.

With the fall of Isis in the city has come the resurgence of its boy scout movement, complete with imported beige uniforms and Robert Baden-Powell’s motto: “Be prepared”.

The scout movement came to Libya in the 1950s, and survived where other reminders of colonial rule faltered – largely because Colonel Muammar Gaddafi was himself a member in his youth.

Speaking to The Times, a scout chief who preferred to remain unidentified said that since Isis left the scouts have taken on some of the most daunting clean-up tasks, including clearing out the squares used for public executions.

“Isis raided our headquarters eight months ago, took over the building and threatened us if we did our activities,” he said.

“For eight months we didn’t dare do anything but since the uprising started, the young scouts came back and we are helping to run the city.”

According to the Libyan Herald, another major step towards normality in Derna has been a request to the justice ministry in the government-controlled city of Beida to send judges and prosecutors for the reestablishment of a secular court.

Derna has been without a recognised court system since it was suspended amid violence in 2012. Isis set up a Shariah Court in October – and there had been fears the al-Qaeda-affiliated Abu Sleem Martyrs might try to maintain a similar style of judiciary.

And while attempts were being made to return to normality, the threat of a possible counter-attack from Isis remained. According to the Herald, a missile fired by the group from nearby hills struck a populated area on Wednesday, wounding three people including a child.