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Libya

Libya

World Watch List Rank 4
World Watch List Score 90/100
Leader Chairman and Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj
Population 6,570,000 I 36,200
Main Religion Islam
Government The UN-backed Government of National Accord and a rival government based in eastern Libya compete for legitimacy and territorial control
WWL Rank in 2019 4
Persecution Level Extreme Persecution

Libya has been in a civil war since 2011. A lack of law and order has meant organised crime has thrived, making Christians vulnerable to persecution. Islamic extremists brutally attack and kidnap Christians without having to suffer the consequences. Believers who publicly profess their faith or evangelise can also be arrested.

All Libyans are considered to be Muslim and are forbidden from going to church. Those who leave Islam to follow Jesus have to hide their faith, especially from their family. Anyone suspected of becoming a Christian is pressured, often violently, to renounce their faith.

Bibles and other Christian literature are forbidden and there are severe consequences for Christians caught with them. Many believers risk their lives to follow Jesus. Some have to consider fleeing the country due to the hostile attitude towards Christianity.

PERSECUTION IN LIBYA

"What religion are you?"

Antonio Espares and his two co-workers had been abducted by masked men. His friends said that they were Muslims. Antonio could have done the same; he was a migrant worker from the Philippines, and he had registered himself as a Muslim, thinking it might make life easier in his new home. But when faced with death, he couldn't deny his God.

"I am a Christian," he said.

The two Muslims were allowed to go to a van, which drove away. Antonio's captors cut off his lips, then forced him to kneel, and cut off the front of his thighs. Finally, they cut off his head.

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, but the rule of law is largely absent in Libya. The main threat Christians face is from militant Islamist groups; 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.

Libyan Christians with a Muslim background face very violent and intense pressure from their family and the wider community to renounce their faith. Foreigners from other parts of the continent are also targeted by various Islamic militant groups and organized criminal groups. These groups kidnap Christians and there have also been instances in which Christians have been killed in a very brutal and shocking manner. Even when they do not face such a fate, Christians from sub-Saharan Africa are harassed, often held in detention centers and subjected to threats from radical Islamists. Christians who publicly express their faith and try to share the Gospel with others also face the risk of arrest and violence. The absence of a single central government to impose law and order in the county has made the situation for Christians precarious. The level of violence against Christians in Libya is very high and Christians are subjected to very violent, inhumane and degrading treatment.

HOW WE HELP

In cooperation with local partners and churches, Open Doors is supporting the church in Libya through:

  • Training
  • Literature distribution
  • Socio-economic development projects
  • Advocacy.

PRAY FOR LIBYA

  • Give thanks for Arabic satellite and web broadcasts that spread the gospel: pray that many will receive God’s love
  • That God will build up the faith of isolated believers, His growing church and those scattered through Europe by persecution
  • That God would confound and disrupt the plans of Islamic State, showing His mercy and sovereignty to all.

 

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