Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.

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. Comments written in all caps will be deleted.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Features Unpacking the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict and Its Ripple Effect on Israel’s Region

    Unpacking the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict and Its Ripple Effect on Israel’s Region

    JNS.org – Aside from Israel itself, those with a vested interest in the Jewish state are accustomed to tracking developments related to Middle East players such as Iran, Syria, Jordan and Egypt. But much global attention has recently focused on the Caucasus region at the Europe-Asia border, specifically on the suddenly intensified violence between Azerbaijan and Armenia in the mountainous Nagorno-Karabakh area of western Azerbaijan. The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, while not taking place in Israel’s immediate neighborhood, does have what one scholar called […]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Features Earth Day 2016: Israel Shines in Water Technology, Recycling, Renewable Energy

    Earth Day 2016: Israel Shines in Water Technology, Recycling, Renewable Energy

    JNS.org – On Friday, April 22, 196 nations across the world mark Earth Day, the annual day dedicated to environmental protection that was enacted in 1970. Not to be forgotten on this day is Israel, which is known as the “start-up nation” for its disproportionate amount of technological innovation, including in the area of protecting the environment. For Earth Day 2016, JNS.org presents a sampling of the Jewish state’s internal achievements and global contributions in the environmental realm. Water conservation Israeli […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture World New Documentary Explores Holocaust Humor, Role That Laughter Played in Death Camps

    New Documentary Explores Holocaust Humor, Role That Laughter Played in Death Camps

    Holocaust humor and the role that laughter played in the lives of Jews during World War II are the focus of a documentary that made its world premiere on Monday at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City. In The Last Laugh, first- and second-generation survivors, as well as famous Jewish and non-Jewish comedians, discuss their thoughts on when joking about the death camps is appropriate or taboo. “Nazi humor, that’s OK. Holocaust humor, no,” Jewish comedic giant, actor and filmmaker Mel Brooks says in the film. “Anything I […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs Tragedy Culminates in ‘Celebration,’ Says Israeli Author Who Lost Son to Terror

    Tragedy Culminates in ‘Celebration,’ Says Israeli Author Who Lost Son to Terror

    JNS.org – Sherri Mandell’s life was devastated on May 8, 2001, when her 13-year-old son Koby was murdered by terrorists on the outskirts of the Israeli Jewish community of Tekoa. Yet Mandell not only shares the story of her loss, but also celebrates the lessons she has learned from tragedy. Indeed, “celebrate” is this Israeli-American author’s word choice. Her second book, The Road to Resilience: From Chaos to Celebration (Toby Press), came out earlier this year. The lesson: in every celebration, there is […]

    Read more →
  • Features Opinion For Alan Gross, Cuban Prison Didn’t Harden His Heart or Weaken His Ambition

    For Alan Gross, Cuban Prison Didn’t Harden His Heart or Weaken His Ambition

    JNS.org – Alan Gross used to be nothing more to me than a tragic headline. When I started my position at this news service in July 2011, Gross had been imprisoned in Cuba since December 2009 for what that country called “crimes against the state.” Gross, a subcontractor for the United States Agency for International Development, went to Cuba to help the Jewish community there access the Internet. After his arrest, he received a trial he describes as a “B movie,” […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Features New Movie Shows How Global Economic Instability Grew From Very Local Greed

    New Movie Shows How Global Economic Instability Grew From Very Local Greed

    JNS.org – When I saw the recent Academy Award-winning film “The Big Short,” I was struck by the sheer genius of the financiers who devised the schemes and packaged the loans for resale, but it left me with unanswered questions about how the properties these loans represented were moved. “The Big Short” was largely about paper transactions, big money, and wealthy investors, and it mildly touched on the way the actual end-users — the home buyers and brokers — played into this […]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Book Reviews Psychiatry and the Spirit

    Psychiatry and the Spirit

    Why do we think so negatively about psychiatrists that we still insult them by calling them shrinks? Some medics might be quacks, but we don’t generally refer to them as witches! Shrinks; The Untold Story of Psychiatry, by Dr. Jeffrey Lieberman, is a sobering account of how psychiatry has swung from a marginal, unscientific mixture of weird theories into one of the most common and pervasive forms of treatment of what are commonly called “disorders of the mind.” Is it […]

    Read more →
  • Features Opinion At Forbes Summit in Israel, Entrepreneurship Is a ‘Common Language’

    At Forbes Summit in Israel, Entrepreneurship Is a ‘Common Language’

    JNS.org – Nine months ago, Seth Cohen, director of network initiatives for the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, and Randall Lane, editor of Forbes Magazine, were schmoozing about the “vibrancy of Tel Aviv and soul of Jerusalem,” as Lane put it. They dreamed about how they could bring young and innovative millennials to the so-called “start-up nation.” From April 3-7, Forbes turned that dream into a reality. Israel played host to the first-ever Forbes Under 30 EMEA (Europe, the Middle East, and Africa) […]

    Read more →