Mass Arrest and Torture of Christians in Libya

March 6, 2013 1:22 am 1 comment

Coptic Christian Church, the St. Bishoy Monastery, located between Cairo and Alexandria. More than 8 million Coptic Christians live in Egypt. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Last week’s news of four Christian missionaries in Libya placed under arrest, possibly facing the death penalty for “proselytizing,” is apparently the tip of the iceberg. Yesterday, Arabic media reported that over 100 Christian Copts from Egypt, who appear to have been living and working in Libya, were recently arrested in Ben Ghazi—also on the accusation, or pretext, of being “Christian missionaries.”

One video made by the Libyan militia interrogators—most of whom look like Islamic Salafis, with long beards and clipped mustaches—appeared on the Internet yesterday. It shows a room full of detained Copts. They sit hunched over on the floor—with all their hair shaven off, looking like dejected, or doomed, concentration camp prisoners. According to one source, many of these Copts have been tortured. Some have had the famous Coptic cross often tattooed on the wrists of Copts burned off with acid.

Next, the camera-man zooms in on the material which got them in this predicament: atop a table, several Bibles, prayer books, and pictures of Jesus, Mary and other saints appear spread out. The Libyan interrogators complain about how these Christians could dare bring such material into Libya, and that they, their abductors, are sure that the Copts were going to use such Christian materials to proselytize Libya, to sporadic ejaculations of “Allah Akbar!” from across the room.

What is going on in Libya? Do these reports—first of four foreign Christian missionaries, including one American, now of more than 100 Christians from neighboring Egypt—indicate that Christian missionaries recently decided to flood Libya in droves? Or are these ongoing reports an indication that post-Gaddafi Libya is simply becoming increasingly intolerant of any Christian presence?

Concerning the four foreign missionaries whom the Western media picked up on earlier, it is difficult to say who they are and what they were doing, since they basically have been swallowed up by the Ben Ghazi prisons; their names and identities have not even been revealed. As for the 100 Egyptian Copts, it is hard to believe they were proselytizing. Christians in Egypt dare not proselytize to their fellow Muslim citizens, who speak the same dialect and share the same Egyptian culture. It is a dangerous thing to do. Is it reasonable, then, to believe that some 100 Copts decided to proselytize to Muslims in Libya—where it is common knowledge that the Obama-supported jihadis reign?

Even the Coptic Church in Egypt made statements to this effect. According to Coptic Bishop Pachomios, “This is a very serious incident, in which Egyptian citizens were arrested on the mere suspicion [of proselytizing] and tortured while in detention.” The bishop confirmed that these imprisoned Egyptian Christians were working in Libya, adding that “it doesn’t make sense that as many as 100 Egyptian Copts had decided to engage in proselytizing activities in another country.” After all, they can simply proselytize in their own country. Naguib Gabriel, head of the Cairo-based Egyptian Union for Human Rights, also “expressed his dismay over the reports. He, too, voiced doubt that the Egyptians in question had been proselytizing in Libya,” while correctly pointing out that, “Even if this were proven to be the case, they should not have been detained because of it.”

Moreover, a recent Christian Post article points out the inconsistencies in official statements from Libya, including how the number of Christian material being found on these alleged missionaries keeps inflating. For instance, one Christian arrested under the accusation of having 30,000 Bibles in his possession, was later described by police as having 45,000 Bibles.

It is becoming clear that these arrests are increasingly less about actual Christian evangelism to Muslims, and more about Muslim hostility to Christians. When the Western media reported about the four foreign missionaries, they made it a point to state that the anti-proselytism law comes from the Gaddafi era. Yet, under Gaddafi, one did not hear of such back-to-back arrests of alleged missionaries—just as one did not hear of attacks on Christian churches in Libya, such as the one that took place only two months ago, leaving two Christians dead.

Here, then, is yet another indicator of the true nature of the “Arab Spring” and the Obama administration’s wholesale support of it—hate and hostility for Christians.

Raymond Ibrahim is a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center and an Associate Fellow at the Middle East Forum. This article was originally published by Front Page Magazine.

1 Comment

  • I wish this persecution by Muslims would make the Copts (and Maronites) more sympathetic to Israel.

    But it ain’t happening. It seems as though to please their torturers, they become even more anti-Israel.

    If Mr. Ibrahim thinks otherwise (maybe they have told him in private, but are afraid to speak up publicly), he should let us know.

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Arts and Culture Theater US & Canada New Play Explores the ‘Arrogance’ of American Jews Critical of Israel, Playwright Says

    New Play Explores the ‘Arrogance’ of American Jews Critical of Israel, Playwright Says

    In his new play Mr. Goldberg Goes to Tel Aviv, playwright Oren Safdie tackles an issue that he has a major concern with: the relationship between Israelis and left-leaning Diaspora Jews with their “I know better” critical views. At the heart of the one-act play is Tony, a Jewish and gay Palestinian sympathizer who expresses strong anti-Israel sentiments when the play begins and at one point even sides with a Palestinian terrorist who holds his captive. Tony, who is also an [...]

    Read more →
  • Music US & Canada Hassidic Parody of Taylor Swift Song Apes Long Jewish Holidays (VIDEO)

    Hassidic Parody of Taylor Swift Song Apes Long Jewish Holidays (VIDEO)

    A Jewish comedy troupe released a parody video on Wednesday of Taylor Swift’s hit song Shake It Off in which they joke about taking extensive time off from work for Jewish holidays. “And the goyim gonna stay, stay, stay, stay, stay. And the Jews are gonna pray, pray pray, pray, pray. I’m just gonna take, take, take, take, take. I’m taking off,” goes the chorus for I’m Taking Off. Menachem Weinstein, the video’s lead singer, is the creative director at [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Jewish Literature On 75th Anniversary, Looking at the Jewish Influence on Gone With the Wind

    On 75th Anniversary, Looking at the Jewish Influence on Gone With the Wind

    JNS.org – The 75th anniversary of the premiere of “Gone with the Wind” on Dec. 15 presents an opportunity to examine the Jewish influence on one of the most popular films of all time. That influence starts with the American Civil War epic’s famed producer, David O. Selznick. Adjusted for inflation, “Gone with the Wind” remains the highest-grossing movie ever made. It earned the 1939 Academy Award for Best Picture, the same honor another Selznick film, “Rebecca,” garnered in 1940. Selznick [...]

    Read more →
  • Featured Music US & Canada EXCLUSIVE: Matisyahu Provides Most Extensive Analysis Yet of His Religious, Musical Evolution (INTERVIEW)

    EXCLUSIVE: Matisyahu Provides Most Extensive Analysis Yet of His Religious, Musical Evolution (INTERVIEW)

    Matisyahu got candid in an exclusive interview with The Algemeiner on Monday about his religious and musical journey – after shedding his Chassidic skin, yarmulke, long beard and all – from the start of his career in 2005 when he became a reggae superstar with hits King Without a Crown and Jerusalem. The singer-songwriter embarks on his Festival of Light tour this month, an annual Hanukkah event that stops in Montreal, New York, and other cities before ending in San Juan, [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Personalities ‘Sheriff of Mars’ Unveils Endearing Life of Jewish Music Star Hidden in the Fields of France

    ‘Sheriff of Mars’ Unveils Endearing Life of Jewish Music Star Hidden in the Fields of France

    JNS.org – It was an era of steel strings, guitar heroes, and storytellers—high on heroin, rebellious. Outlaw country music, the hallmark of Nashville’s powerful and angry music scene of the 1970s, was the brew of greats such as Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, and Townes Van Zandt. But there is another, little-known music hero of that era: Daniel Antopolsky. A Jewish lad from Augusta, Ga.—the son of immigrants who settled in the south and ran a hardware store on Main Street—the [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture US & Canada Iranian Actress Replaces Israel’s Gal Gadot for ‘Ben-Hur’ Remake

    Iranian Actress Replaces Israel’s Gal Gadot for ‘Ben-Hur’ Remake

    Iranian actress Nazanin Boniadi replaced Israeli star Gal Gadot as the female lead in the new Ben-Hur remake, Hollywood.com reported on Tuesday. The Homeland actress will play Esther, a slave that Ben-Hur sets free and falls in love with. Gadot quit the movie when it became clear that filming conflicted with her schedule for the Man of Steel sequel. The Israeli actress plays Wonder Woman in the superhero film Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. Actor Jack Huston takes on the [...]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Personalities Biography Sheds New Light on David Ben-Gurion’s Place in Jewish History

    Biography Sheds New Light on David Ben-Gurion’s Place in Jewish History

    JNS.org – There is one sentence in “Ben-Gurion: Father of Modern Israel” that made me sit up in surprise. I thought that I knew the basic facts about how Israel came into being, but while describing what it was like in the days and hours before the state was declared, author Anita Shapira provides one important anecdote I was not aware of. On the 12th of May, the Zionist Executive met to decide what to do. Moshe Sharrett had just returned [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture US & Canada ‘Death of Klinghoffer’ Actress Compares Met Opera to ‘Schindler’s List’

    ‘Death of Klinghoffer’ Actress Compares Met Opera to ‘Schindler’s List’

    An actress starring in the controversial Met Opera The Death of Klinghoffer defended the show on Tuesday by comparing it to the 1993 Holocaust film Schindler’s List, New York Post reported. “To me, this was like [the movie] Schindler’s List. We make art so people won’t forget,’’ said the actress, who plays a captured passenger in the show and asked not to be identified. The Met Opera focuses on the infamous murder of Lower East Side Jewish resident Leon Klinghoffer, 69. The wheelchair-bound father of [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.