Loading
Protest highlights treatment of Coptic Christians in Libya
By Adelaide Darling
Protesters carry signs in Washington D.C. on March 14, 2013. Credit: Addie Mena/CNA.
Protesters carry signs in Washington D.C. on March 14, 2013. Credit: Addie Mena/CNA.

.- Christians gathered in front of the Libyan Embassy in Washington, D.C., on March 14 to peacefully protest the recent detainment and torture of Copts in Libya.

One protestor, a Middle Eastern Christian, told CNA that the Libyan government holds Coptic Christians and “accuses them of evangelizing against Islam” for possessing Christian Bibles and icons, even though such items are permissible under Libyan law. 

“I'm sorry to say, but in the Middle East, it's all starting to be the same,” he continued, warning that similar persecution of Christians has also occurred in Egypt, Palestine and Lebanon.

The March 14 protest condemned the arrest and torture of dozens of Egyptian Copts in Libya, as well as the death of one of the Christians, Ezzat Hakim Atallah, on March 9 after ten days of torture at the hands of Libya's Preventive Security department in Tripoli.

The protestors gathered in hopes of persuading authorities to free the remaining prisoners who, according to a statement by the organizers, were detained simply for “possessing Christian books for personal use.”

The event was organized by the group Coptic Solidarity and joined by the Jubilee Campaign, an organization that seeks to pursue religious freedom for persecuted Christians.

In a press release announcing the protest, Coptic Solidarity called on Libyan authorities to release all Copts imprisoned in the country “under the despicable and idiotic charges of proselytizing.”

They also criticized Egyptian government officials for “their failure to defend their fellow citizens.”
 
“In contrast,” the group added, the Egyptian “presidency and the foreign ministry had enthusiastically rushed to defend a Muslim Brotherhood cell that was arrested in the United Arab Emirates on charges of threatening the country's national security.”

“The attitude of the Egyptian authorities in dealing with the Coptic citizens is shameful.”

The organization also called on international human rights groups to push for investigations and an end to “the flagrant attacks on innocent Copts in Libya.”

Kelly McLean of the Jubilee Campaign told CNA that one of the prisoners was the owner of a bookshop in Benghazi that contained some Christian books and humanitarian aid materials. Previously, police had confiscated a number of his books, but had allowed him to keep others, she said.

However, in early March, the shop owner was detained again on charges of proselytization because “he had fewer books than the original shipment,” leading the government to claim that he had been distributing the books.

But in reality, McLean explained, the shortage of books was due to the fact that police had already confiscated some of them.

“It doesn't make any sense,” she said. “Honestly, if he was giving out that many books, there would have been an issue before this latest detention.”

“Hopefully in the future, we want to put pressure on the government to not only abide by human rights standards, but to uphold their own constitution, which allows freedom of religion,” she added.

Tags: Religious freedom, Church in Middle East, Libya, Coptic Christians


Ads by AdsLiveMedia(What's this?)

* The number of messages that can be online is limited. CNA reserves the right to edit messages for content and tone. Comments and opinions expressed by users do not necessarily reflect the opinions or beliefs of CNA. CNA will not publish comments with abusive language, insults or links to other pages

RESOURCES »

Ads by Google (What's this?)
Ads by Google (What's this?)

Featured Videos

Pope Francis celebrates the closing Mass and announces site of next World Youth Day
Pope Francis celebrates the closing Mass and announces site of next World Youth Day
Pope Francis visits poor neighborhood and meets with young people from Argentina
Pope Francis celebrates Mass at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida
Denver rally draws hundreds in support of religious freedom
Pope Francis prays over a sick man in St Peter's Square
Denver women's clinic will offer natural, Catholic care
Interview Clips: Barbara Nicolosi speaks to CNA
US Cardinals press conference at North American College
Pope Benedict to retire to monastery inside Vatican City
Pope cites waning strength as reason for resignation
Hundreds convene in Denver to urge respect for life
New Orange bishop encourages Catholic unity in diversity
Chinese pro-life activist calls for reform, international attention
At Lincoln installation, Bishop Conley says holiness is success
Mother Cabrini shrine reopens in Chicago after a decade
Ordination of 33 deacons fills St. Peter's with joy
Cardinal says "Charity is the mother of all the virtues"
Augustine Institute expands evangelization effort with new campus
Bishops recall 'Way of St. James' as chance to trust in God
Los Angeles cathedral's newest chapel houses Guadalupe relic
Apr
19

Liturgical Calendar

April 19, 2014

Holy Saturday

All readings:
Today »
This year »

Catholic Daily

Gospel of the Day

Mt 28:1-10

Gospel
Date
04/19/14
04/18/14
04/17/14

Daily Readings


First Reading:: Gen 1:1-2:2
Gospel:: Mt 28:1-10

Saint of the Day

Blessed James Oldo »

Saint
Date

Homily of the Day

Mt 28:1-10

Homily
Date
04/19/14
04/18/14
04/17/14

Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com

Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com
     HTML
Text only
Headlines
  

Follow us: