Libya

The small minority of Christians consists of indigenous believers from a Muslim background and migrants from sub-Saharan Africa seeking work or entry to Europe.

Libya

World Watch List Rank World Watch List Score
7 86/100
Leader Population
Prime Minister Fayez Al-Sarraj 6.4 million | 42,000 Christians
Main Religion Government
Islam Transitional
WWL Rank in 2017 Persecution Level
11 Extreme Persecution

Islamic militant groups and organized crime are the two main causes of Christian persecution in Libya. Libya is a country in which Christians are a very small minority, mostly made up of foreigners in search of work or a means of reaching Europe by crossing the Mediterranean. Christian migrants from sub-Saharan African countries face not only intolerance from the general population but also racial prejudice. Islamic militant groups that have proliferated since the fall of the Gaddafi regime in 2011 are an additional source of danger for Christians in Libya. Societal pressure and persecution from immediate and extended family members is also a problem that converts with a Muslim background face in the country. The state of anarchy and civil war has also made the situation worse for Christians by creating an environment of impunity in which organized criminal groups engage in human trafficking and Islamist militant groups can attack Christians without any fear of consequences.

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.

PRAYER POINTS 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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TAKE ACTION

  • Pray for those that are suffering by reading the latest prayer requests from persecuted Christians around the world.
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  • Advocate for persecuted Christians by signing the Hope for Middle East Petition.
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  • Consider donating your resources to Open Doors.
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