Libyan Islamists affiliated with the fundamentalist Salafi groups arrested and reportedly tortured 48 Egyptian Coptic Christians last week in Benghazi.
According to AFP, the Coptic Christians were arrested and detained by armed Salafists on charges of proselyting. A video later released by the Salafists showed dozens of men with shaved heads squatted on the floor in a tiny room with a bearded Libyan recounting their charges.
According to Fox News, the Christians were later released by the Salafists and are awaiting deportation back to Egypt.
But during their detainment, family members back in Egypt claimed that the Coptic Christians were tortured by their captors, including having their heads shaved and having acid used to burn off crosses that were tattoo to their wrists, Ahram Online reported.
“When the residents of the village told me that he was imprisoned, I embraced his sons and told them they would not see their father again,” Fardoos Salib, the mother of Coptic farmer Atif Kamel, told Egyptian newspaper al-Watan. “I prayed in the church, until God responded and he was released, as God knows our conditions.”
This is the latest incident involving an increasing series of attacks on Christians in post-Qaddafi Libya. In late December, two Egyptians died in a blast at a Coptic Church in the town of Dafniya. In February, four foreign missionaries were arrested on charges of proselytism. Last week, a Catholic priest was attacked by armed militia men in Tripoli, according to Independent Catholic News.