News / Africa

Christians in Libya Face Safety Concerns

Worshipers are seen at St. Francis Roman Catholic church in the Libyan capital of Tripoli (file photo).Worshipers are seen at St. Francis Roman Catholic church in the Libyan capital of Tripoli (file photo).
x
Worshipers are seen at St. Francis Roman Catholic church in the Libyan capital of Tripoli (file photo).
Worshipers are seen at St. Francis Roman Catholic church in the Libyan capital of Tripoli (file photo).
— Questions of safety for Christians are being raised in Libya. Three communities of Roman Catholic nuns are leaving the country because of threats from radical Islamists. And four missionaries were arrested over the weekend for distributing religious literature.
 
Ash Wednesday at St. Francis, a Roman Catholic church in central Tripoli, was somber as usual.
 
The Apostolic Vicar, Giovanni Innocenzo Martinelli, concluded the service by urging the congregation of 23 mainly Filipino worshippers to “be faithful to the Gospel.”
 
Beyond the whitewashed church, though, there is no spreading of the good news by Martinelli or the parish priest, Father Dominique - that would be dangerous.
 
During the weekend, four Christians - a Swedish-American, an Egyptian, a South African and a South Korean - were arrested in the eastern city of Benghazi on suspicion of proselytizing and distributing religious literature.
 
If they are found guilty of charges leveled against them, they could face the death penalty.
 
Two communities of Roman Catholic nuns have left eastern Libya, a hotbed of Islamic fundamentalism, after threats from Islamists.
 
French-born priest Father Dominique explains:
 
"What happened is that the sisters, the religious sisters, three communities thought it was better for them to go, to leave. Two communities left already and one is going to leave [soon]. They received some threats, you know, and they heard about, they saw some people going around and talking to them in a way that they could think maybe their life could eventually be endangered."
 
They are not the only Christians who have faced threats - or worse.
 
In December, two Egyptian Copts were killed in a bomb blast at a Coptic church in the Mediterranean town of Dafniya. Assailants broke in and burnt icons in September at St. George’s Greek Orthodox Church. And shots were fired last May, narrowly missing the priest. An Italian cemetery in Tripoli has been vandalized.
 
Despite the incidents, Christians still worship at the handful of churches in Tripoli and Benghazi.
 
Father Dominique sees little drop-off.
 
“Really we don’t feel anything as you could see this morning that people are coming to church and they will come this afternoon, Friday and Saturday.”
 
Before the fall of Moammar Gadhafi two years ago, there were an estimated 100,000 Christians in Libya, nearly all of them foreign workers mainly from Egypt, the Philippines, Africa and India. But there are probably half that number now.
 
At the Coptic Orthodox St. Mark’s Church in Tripoli, the congregation numbers a thousand at the main weekly service.
 
The church's Father Timothaus Bishara Adly is critical of Christian attempts to proselytize.

"Our Christianity teaches us not to do [things] like this - we must respect others and if you want to tell them, tell by [your] good behavior. We must respect the government.”

Still, outside the church there are guards  - something that wasn’t needed before Libya’s revolution.

You May Like

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

Judge Declares Washington DC Ban on Public Handguns Unconstitutional

Ruling overturns capital city's prohibition on carrying guns in pubic More

Pricey Hepatitis C Drug Draws Criticism

Activists are using the International AIDS Conference to criticize drug companies for charging high prices for life-saving therapies More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid