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Libya Facts

Score: 90/ 100
Region: Africa
Persecution Type: Islamic oppression
Persecution Level: Extreme
Population: 6,570,000
Christians: 36,200
Main Religion: Islam
Government: Transitional
Leader: Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj

Profile of Persecution

Violence 68%
Church Life 98%
National Life 96%
Community Life 95%
Family Life 93%
Private Life 92%

No recognition of the church—no freedom for Christians

The absence of a single central government to uphold law and order contributes to the extreme levels of pressure in national and church life. Libyan Christians with a Muslim background face violent and intense pressure to renounce their faith from their family and the wider community. There is no freedom of speech, no equal treatment of Christians, no recognition of the church and no churches being built.

Christian migrant workers are allowed to meet together to worship in Libya, but they are always at risk of attack by Islamic militants, and face discrimination from Libyan society. Churches for Libyans are forbidden, and Libyan Christians must keep their faith completely secret. Christians who publicly express their faith and try to share the Christian faith with others face the risk of arrest and violence at the hands of their families, communities or violent Islamic militants.

Christians are at risk all over the country, but are especially vulnerable in areas where radical Islamic groups are present. ISIS still maintains a presence in the wider region around Sirte. Other groups, like those connected to the Islamic Dawn coalition, are in control of areas around Tripoli and some parts of Tripoli itself. In the east, radical groups are at least present in Benghazi.

Migrant Christians who have been arrested and detained while trying to reach Europe often end up in one of the overcrowded detention centers around Tripoli. Others do not even make it that far, but are directly delivered into the hands of criminal groups or human traffickers. Subsequently, they are forced into heavy labor in the agricultural sector or pushed into prostitution.

Examples of persecution

Given the security issues surrounding a Muslim’s conversion to the Christian faith, most reports about converts in Libya cannot be published.

Christian migrants held in detention centers in Libya—mostly from sub-Saharan African countries—have reportedly been raped and beaten. Although the ill-treatment and violence are not limited to Christian refugees, Christians are singled out for much worse discriminatory and violent treatment.

Slavery and human trafficking still take place despite an earlier international outcry that took place when CNN showed video evidence of a slave auction of sub-Saharan Africans in November 2017.

Population and number of Christian statistics: Johnson T M and Zurlo G A, eds., World Christian Database (Leiden/Boston: Brill, accessed April 2019).

 

Pray for Libya

  • Pray for Christian migrants—mostly from sub-Saharan African countries—who are singled out for discriminatory and violent treatment in detention centers.
  • Political and security conditions need to be improved within the country for Christians’ situation to progress. Pray for stability and protection of the rights of religious minorities.
  • Libyan Christians with a Muslim background face violent and intense pressure from their family and the wider community to renounce their faith. Pray they stand strong in their faith.
  • Pray Christians living in Tripoli would be beacons of Christ’s peace in the midst of turmoil and violence. Pray that people around them would be drawn to Christ through them.

 

Stories from Libya

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April 22, 2020

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