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Libya Christians fear rise of Islamic extremism

ICC Note: After the fall of Muammar Gaddafi’s regime in 2011, Libya’s small Christian community fears for its safety, Agence France-Presse reports. Recently, Catholic nuns have decided to leave their communities following threats from Islamists and four Christian foreigners were arrested in Benghazi on charges of proselytizing. In December, a church bombing killed two people in the Mediterranean town of Dafniya. And, “Not a day goes by without tombs being vandalized,” said Dalmasso Bruno, caretaker of an Italian cemetery where Christians are buried. According to Father Dominique Rezeau, there were as many as 100,000 Christians in Libya before the 2011 revolution that toppled Muammar Gaddafi. “Now only a few thousand remain.”

2/11/2013 Libya (AAN) -“Not a day goes by without tombs being vandalized,” says Dalmasso Bruno, caretaker of the Italian cemetery in the Libyan capital where Christians fear rising Muslim extremism.

“Human bones have been taken out of their tomb and scattered across the cemetery” in central Tripoli, he said. “The Libyan authorities came and took pictures. They promised to take measures but nothing has been done.”

Since the 2011 fall of Moamer Qadaffi regime, the small Christian community’s fears for its safety have increased, especially after a church bombing in December killed two people in the Mediterranean town of Dafniya.

But despite such fears, dozens of worshippers mostly from India, the Philippines and African nations attend mass each week at the Catholic church of Saint Francis near central Tripoli to pray for security to be restored in Libya.

“Look there are no security measures outside the church and the faithful can move around freely around,” said Father Dominique Rezeau.

But elsewhere in Libya, Christians are not so untroubled.

“In Cyrenaica, pressure has been exerted on Christians, notably the nuns who had to leave their congregation ... in the east of the country,” said Father Rezeau.

He said Libya had as many as 100,000 Christians before the 2011 revolution that toppled Qadaffi. “Now only a few thousand remain.”

The main Catholic Church’s clergyman in Libya told the Vatican missionary news agency Fides earlier this month that Christians are being driven out of eastern Libya by Muslim fundamentalists.

The Apostolic Vicar of Tripoli, Giovanni Innocenzo Martinelli, said the situation in that region was “critical” and the “atmosphere very tense.”

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