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article imageChristians being driven out of Libya by Muslim fundamentalists

By Ken Hanly     Feb 2, 2013 in Religion
Tripoli - In an interview with the Vatican missionary news agency Fides, the Apostolic Vicar of Tripoli, Giovanni Martinelli, claimed that Christians are being driven out of the eastern Libya area of Cyrenaica by Muslim fundamentalists
Vicar Martinelli called the situation "critical" and the "atmosphere very tense". Martinelli said that two religious communities had already left after pressure from fundamentalists. The Apostolic Vicar of Benghazi had been advised to take shelter before a large-scale demonstration scheduled for February 20.
Martinelli said: "In past days, the Congregation of the Holy Family of Spoleto who had been there for nearly 100 years were forced to abandon Derna. In Barce [located between Benghazi and Derna] the Franciscan Sisters of the Child Jesus will leave their home in coming days." Derna is east of Benghazi the main city in eastern Libya.
Martinelli also told Vatican Radio that Islamic fundamentalism now governs decisions in Libya. Before the overthrow of Gadaffi about 3% of Libyans were Christians but many hard-line Islamists were active in the battle against Gadaffi. Now in many areas they wield considerable power. Only a few thousand Christians now remain in Libya and many of them are expatriates.
Christian Copts, many from Egypt, have also suffered. In December 2012 two Egyptian Copts were killed in a blast at a Coptic Church in the town of Dafniya, with two other people wounded.
An article on "Religion in Libya" in Wikipedia claims more than a few thousand Christians as being in Libya but perhaps the data is out of date: There are over 60,000 Egyptian Copts in Libya, as they comprise over 1% of the population alone. There are an estimated 40,000 Roman Catholics in Libya who are served by two Bishops, one in Tripoli (serving the Italian community) and one in Benghazi (serving the Maltese community). There is also a small Anglican community, made up mostly of African immigrant workers in Tripoli; it is part of the Anglican Diocese of Egypt.
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