Christian Minority working in
Libya now faces Imprisonment, deathIn a troubling development, Egyptian Copts in Libya say one
of their number has been killed by a militia while detained along with dozens of
other Copts. Copts accuse Libyan militias, with the tacit approval of the
government, of harassing, arresting, torturing, and now killing Christians. Egyptian
Copts wear tattoos such as this cross, which Libyans are using as evidence of
guilt.BENGHAZI, LIBYA (Catholic Online):
Egyptian Copts are angry over the suspicious death of one of their own at the
hands of his Libyan captors. A shopkeeper, who was also a Copt, was arrested by
a Benghazi militia and accused of "proselytizing." That individual was later
allegedly tortured and killed while in detention.
Dozens of other Copts
are also in detention accused of similar "crimes."
Copts are one of the
largest minorities of Christians in the Middle East and North Africa, and their
leadership is based in Egypt. Despite their native status to the region, they
face increasing persecution from Muslims in both Egypt and Libya as Muslims see
them as a threat to their virtual stranglehold on religious thought.
February 26, Benghazi militiamen rounded up and arrested several dozen Egyptian
Copts that were living and working in the city, mostly as shopkeepers. Egyptians
make the largest minority group in Libya, frequently traveling to the country to
According to the Benghazi militia, many of those arrested were
caught with proselytizing literature and had crosses tattooed on their hands or
bodies, which confirmed their proselytizing intentions.
have been accused of "impurity" and dishonesty in dealing with native Libyans.
One of those detainees died under mysterious circumstances on Monday,
following his transfer to Tripoli. It is unknown why he was transferred, but his
lawyers accuse his jailers of torturing him to death.
protestors have taken to the street in Egypt, one burning a Libyan flag before
the Libyan embassy in Cairo.
Last Thursday evening, the Coptic church in
Benghazi was also burned down by angry Muslim protesters.
perpetrated by Muslims against Copts is part of a disturbing trend of
discrimination against Christians in that part of the world. Although the Arab
Spring revolutions were intended to bring a new wave of democracy and freedom to
the people of Northern Africa, thus far those freedoms only appear to belong to
Muslims. In all countries, Muslim conservatives have seized power and
established constitutions that systematically alienate Christian minorities.
The increasing marginalization of these minorities means that Christians
in that region will be increasingly exposed to harassment, and even martyrdom.