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

Jihadist Assassin says Goal of Tunisia Murders Was Chaos

Abu Muqatil at-Tunusi’s remarks in a propaganda interview also cast light on attack on Bardo Museum More

Russia Denies License to Tatar-Language TV Station in Crimea

OSCE official says denial shows 'politically selective censorship of free and independent voices in Crimea is continuing' More

Kenyan Startups Tackle Expensive Remittances Through Bitcoin

Some think services could give Western Union a run for its money, though others say it’s still got a long way to go 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.
For Obama, It's More Business Than Friendships With World Leadersi
X
Aru Pande
April 01, 2015 9:09 PM
The rift between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has put a spotlight on the importance of the American leader’s personal relationships with other world leaders and what role such friendships play in foreign policy. VOA's Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video For Obama, It's More Business Than Friendships With World Leaders

The rift between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has put a spotlight on the importance of the American leader’s personal relationships with other world leaders and what role such friendships play in foreign policy. VOA's Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video Buhari: Nigeria Has ‘Embraced Democracy’

Nigeria woke up to a new president-elect Wednesday, Muhammadu Buhari. But people say democracy is the real winner as the country embarks on its first peaceful handover of power since the end of military rule in 1999. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Abuja.
Video

Video Tiny Camera Sees Inside Blood Vessels

Ahead of any surgical procedure, doctors try to learn as much as possible about the state of the organs they plan to operate on. A new camera developed in the Netherlands can now make that easier - giving surgeons an incredibly detailed look inside blood vessels, all the way to the patient’s heart. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Latin American Groups Seek Fans at Texas Music Festival

Latin American music groups played all over Austin, Texas, during the recent South by Southwest festival, and some made fans out of locals as well as people from around the world who had come to hear music. Such exposure can boost such groups' image back home. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Stockton Community, Police, Work to Improve Relations

Relations are tense between minority communities and police departments around the United States following police shootings that have generated widely-publicized protests. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Stockton, California, where police and community groups are working toward solutions, with backing from Washington.
Video

Video Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedom

Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Report: State of Black America a 'Tale of Two Nations'

The National Urban League has described this year's "State of Black America" report as a "tale of two nations." The group's annual report, released earlier this month (March), found that under an equality index African Americans had only 72% parity compared to whites in areas such as education, economics, health, social justice and civic engagement. It’s a gap that educators and students at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College are looking to close. VOA's Daniela Schrier reports from the school.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials Underway in West Africa

Ebola has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people in West Africa. Since last summer, researchers have rushed to get anti-Ebola vaccines into clinical trials. While it's too early to say that any of the potential vaccines work, some scientists say they are seeing strong results from some of the studies. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More