Giving hope to persecuted Christians since 1995
Select Page

ICC Note: What is happening in Libya? Four Christian foreigners, including a South African, South Korean, Egyptian, and a Swede with a US passport, were arrested in Benghazi on February 10. Three days later, two more Christians from Egypt were arrested, one of whom, identified as Sherif Ramses, was reportedly tortured. Yet, that was only the tip of the iceberg. On February 27, at least 48 Christians from Egypt were arrested, one of whom died while in custody from possible torture. On top of that, a Coptic Church in Benghazi was attacked and two priests were assaulted by militants in early March. The country’s sudden persecution of Christians has led some to question whether the ‘new’ Libya has truly been liberated from the former tyranny of Muammar Gaddafi’s oppressive regime, or if one tyranny has simply been replaced by another, this time led by radical Islamists.
By Mohamed Eljarh
3/19/2013 Libya (Foreign Policy) – You’d think that Libyans wouldn’t have much in the way of objections to Coptic Christians. There aren’t really enough of them in the country to cause any problems: Only about 1 percent of the population consists of Copts, and more or less all of them are immigrants. Unfortunately, their low profile hasn’t protected them from the forces of intolerance.
The new Coptic Church in Benghazi was ransacked and burnt on Thursday, March 14. Protesters broke into the church and set furniture on fire. This was ostensibly an act of retaliation against Egyptian Copts who recently attacked the Libyan embassy in Cairo, raising a cross over the entrance and burning the Libyan flag. In turn, the Egyptian protests came after an Egyptian Christian by the name of Ezzat Atallah died while in Libyan custody: He had been arrested on charges of proselytizing.
The series of tragic events began when security units arrested around 50 Egyptian Copts in Libya on suspicion of possible proselytizing activities. There are claims and counter-claims about what this meant, specifically. The group was captured with thousands of Arabic-language  books and materials about Christianity. It still isn’t clear, though, whether the material was being used to convert Libyans from Islam to Christianity, or was simply intended for personal use by the Christian community in Benghazi and Libya in general.
There is growing concern over religious freedom in Libya. The European Union Delegation in Tripoli expressed deep concern about the detention of Atallah and accompanying reports that he and other detainees accused of missionary activity were abused by security forces. The Libyan government has expressed its determination to ensure human rights in general and religious freedom in particular. But proselytizing is currently a punishable crime in Libya, a country whose population is more than 97 percent Sunni Muslim.

[Full Story]