Horrific news has appeared over the last 24 hours. 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians who were kidnapped in January have been killed in the most brutal circumstances. A video of the murders was posted online by a Libyan group claiming allegiance to Islamic State. It’s obvious the horrific tactics used by the group in Syria and Iraq are inspiring others to equally barbaric attacks.
The workers were taken from their poor village in Upper Egypt in January. A statement says the victims were “people of the cross, followers of the hostile Egyptian church”.
Egypt, itself facing political turmoil, has responded to the attacks by bombing various sites in Libya. The situation in the bordering country has worsened since the overthrow of the previous leader Muammar Gaddafi. There are currently two rival governments, whilst the city of Benghazi is largely controlled by Islamist fighters.
Despite the unrest and obvious security issues, many poor Egyptians head over the border looking for work – just like the 21 who were kidnapped and killed.
Libya is currently number 13 on the World Watch List. Since the downfall of Gaddafi and his regime, the situation for Christians in Libya has deteriorated. The government claims all Libyans are Sunni Muslims, and it is illegal to bring Arabic Bibles into the country or to evangelise. Abdul Salam Bargathi, a commander in Benghazi, has even suggested that Christians could be considered a threat to national security, and secret police and spy networks monitor those who could be considered subversive. Christians also face attacks from militant Islamist groups, and violence against Christians has continued on a large scale and with impunity.
Although migrant workers are allowed to have churches, churches for Libyans forbidden. There are few Libyan believers, and those who convert from Islam must keep their faith a secret. There are reports of converts being beaten by family members when their new beliefs were discovered. But as Antonio’s story demonstrates, even migrant Christians are not safe.
Source: BBC News, Open Doors
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imprisoned, falsely accused, and hated simply for following Jesus.