03 04 Newsflashes from the Persecuted Church
Libya: Eighth Christian Killed; Another in Critical Condition
With eight Christians killed in one week and one murder attempt on another Egyptian Christian this week in Libya, the violence against Christians is growing at an alarming rate. The killings have caused fear among Christians, especially in the eastern city of Benghazi where all the shootings took place.
On Sunday, a body was found in Benghazi’s Jarutha district. The man, who had multiple gunshot wounds, has not been identified. A small tattooed cross on his hand indicated that he is a Christian from Egypt. Many Copts have the tattoos on a hand.
On Monday, an Egyptian grocer, also understood to be a Coptic Christian, was left in critical condition after being shot. A week earlier, the bodies of seven Egyptian Coptic Christians were found at a beach in the Jarutha suburb of Benghazi.
According to Connor (pseudonym), a staff member of Open Doors, this is the latest in a number of attacks in the city which appear to be “deliberately targeting Egyptian Copts.” “What we hear is that the Christians were specifically targeted by these unknown perpetrators. The seven Egyptian Christians killed last week were taken from their apartments where the armed men searched for Christians.”
The Open Doors worker says that the situation in Libya seems to be deteriorating in the direction of a “failed state.”
“The government doesn’t really control the nation,” says the Open Doors worker. “The armed groups in the country can do what they want.” As a consequence of this, kidnappings, robberies and murder are part of daily life in Libya.
A new development is the specific targeting of Christians. Connor adds: “The Christians in Libya need our prayers. Pray that the Lord gives them wisdom what to do in this situation, and that He comforts the relatives and friends of the Christians that were killed or wounded over the past week.”
Central African Republic: Many Awaiting Comfort in Complex Situation
The Open Doors Research and Communications Manager for West and Central Africa is in Central African Republic (CAR) to encourage Christians and to assess their circumstances and immediate needs. He has been sharing his impressions from inside the war-torn country, which is ranked No. 16 on the World Watch List of the worst persecutors of Christians. This is another report:
We left Mbaiki early morning. Just outside the Catholic guesthouse where we had spent the night, we came across about 10 big trucks loaded with large wooden planks standing in the road. A small van with a flat tire-replacement in progress was blocking their way. There was enough room for us to pass, so we overtook the convoy.
The trucks came from a saw mill South of Mbaiki. Their presence upset my companion, because for him it was a sore reminder of Chad’s perceived complicity in the CAR crisis. He explained that these wooden planks are an important commodity in the Chadian economy and that Seleka earned money from selling this wood throughout the crisis. Central Africans complain that Chadian mercenaries within Seleka ranks created big problems. Muslim migrants from Chadian background in CAR sided with these Chadians in their oppression of the local population. To top it all off, Chadian Misca forces are said to have protected Seleka and Muslims throughout the crisis.
Chadian elite forces are repatriating Muslims from Bangui and causing further suffering for local communities. For instance, during their evacuation of Muslims from Damara last week, Chadian soldiers shot randomly at the non-Muslim population and burned some houses.
Now the local Muslim population is being targeted in reprisal. But not all Muslims are held responsible. Muslims from Algerian origin in Bangui PK5 neighborhood are left in peace because they refused to side with Seleka. It is the same for Lebanese Muslims, who continue to operate their shops in Bangui. The few Lebanese leaders that cooperated with Seleka have already left the country. There is great thankfulness for the Gula Muslim troops from northern CAR who protected the non-Muslim population in Pissa village against the Seleka.
As we pondered these complexities, we arrive back in Bangui. We end up in a large traffic jam at the Petevo market. This market has seen substantial growth in the past few weeks because other bigger markets in the Muslim-dominated areas of PK5 and Miskine neighborhood have become too dangerous for commercial activity.
We are thankful to finally arrive at the FATEB (Evangelical Theological Faculty) compound where we spend some time with our Cameroonian and South African colleagues. They are busy training pastors, women leaders and counselors in trauma ministry with particular focus on rape victims. A large number of women have been raped during the crisis; some even in front of their husbands. Many of these women have been rejected by their husbands as a result. A raped woman is simply considered of lower stature than other women. Church leaders do not know how to deal with this problem. Open Doors is coming alongside them to help in the healing.
Our journey so far has been blessed and we are thankful that we have returned safely to Bangui. Now we are eager to travel to the believers in the interior because we know they are eagerly awaiting people like us to show solidarity, and comfort and strengthen them. We look forward to our time with them. Please continue praying for us.