Regional Information

Libya: Persecution of Christians

Information from Annual Survey for 2012

 

There were several incidents of persecution during 2012, including a few of a serious nature. On 30th December three Egyptian Christians were killed and another injured in a bomb attack on a Coptic church in Dafiniyah, near Misrata. The building suffered considerable damage. The four men were having lunch together at the time of the attack.

 

In March a Christian cemetery was desecrated, reportedly in revenge for the burning of Qur’ans by US soldiers in Afghanistan. It should be noted that religious sites of other religious minorities were also desecrated, notably Sufi shrines.

 

Open Doors World Watch List:[1]

 

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

Ranking

17

26

25

22

25

23

26

22

20

Score

60

42.0

41.0

42.5

41.0

42.5

39.0

41.0

42.5



[1] This is an indication of how each country compares with others and how it is changing from one year to the next. The assessment is based on a questionnaire that assesses both structural issues and specific incidents. Further details are available from an Open Doors website (e.g. http://www.worldwatchlist.us/). MEC contributes to the information gathering used in the compilation, though the assessment and ranking is Open Doors’ alone. For the ranking, the lower the figure the greater the persecution in the country relative to others. In contrast, the higher the score (which is out of 100) the greater the persecution of Christians in the country concerned.

Latest Requests

  • Syria: call for day of prayer as violence continues

    Posted on 7th April 2014

     

    Greetings in the name of Jesus, Prince of Peace

     

    Syrian Christians are calling for a day of prayer and fasting for Syria on 11th April. As the devastating conflict continues, Christians continue to be affected by the violence along with all other communities in Syria.

     

    We regret to report that earlier today (7th April) Father  Frans van der Lugt, a 75 year-old Dutch priest who has been resident in Syria for more than 40 years, was murdered in the Bustan ad-Diwan neighbourhood of Homs. Father van der Lugt was killed by an assailant who entered his residence, took him outside and shot him. Talal al-Barazi, governor of Homs province, has reportedly claimed that the perpetrator is associated with Jabhat an-Nusra, an al-Qaeda affiliate group in control of that area.

     

    There has been much media attention on recent events in the town of Kessab, near Syria’s border with Turkey, which has a significant Armenian population. On 21st March armed groups opposed to the government took control of the area. Up to 3,000 Christians reportedly fled. Following the take-over, some church buildings were desecrated, homes pillaged and government buildings destroyed. However, Christians from Kessab, including the town’s mayor, have refuted reports that alleged that a massacre occurred.

     

    Syrian Christians request our prayers that:

    a.      Fr. Frans’ family, friends and colleagues will know the presence, peace and comfort of Jesus

    b.      Church leaders will know the Spirit’s guiding wisdom in all aspects of their work

    c.       Those forced to leave Kessab will know the protection, provision and peace of Jesus

    d.      Efforts to secure a nationwide ceasefire will be resumed, including efforts to curb the influx of foreign fighters and weapons and to promote reconciliation

    e.      All those detained without trial or held by kidnappers will be released, including the two bishops kidnapped in April 2013, a priest kidnapped in July 2013 and two priests kidnapped in February 2013

    f.        Local initiatives to promote reconciliation will be effective and wisely supported

    g.      Humanitarian assistance will be provided for all those in need within Syria and amongst Syrian refugees in neighbouring countries.

     

    May be circulated to general mailing lists, outside organisations, and quoted from freely in reports citing “Middle East Concern” as the source of the information.

     

     
  • Turkey: legal change leads to temporary release of murderers of Christians

    Posted on 12th March 2014

     

    Greetings in the name of Jesus, the Good Shepherd

     

    Last week we requested prayer regarding the effects of a legal change on the trial of five men arrested at the scene of the murder of three Christians in Malatya in April 2007. Recall that a new regulation means people cannot be held in remand for more than five years. Under these new provisions, the five perpetrators were released, as expected, on Friday evening (7th March) pending trial.

     

    The Turkish press has condemned the fact that there have not yet been convictions and expressed concern about the release of the defendants. They also point to various irregularities in the trial process. A local TV station in Malatya interviewed Susanne Geske, who continues to live in Malatya. She spoke of her forgiveness in Christ of her husband’s murderers and that she held no bitterness against them, but questioned the justice of the release and how the Christian community might thereby be affected.

     

    The Association of Protestant Churches in Turkey issued a statement today (12th March)saying that the release has caused great sorrow among Christians and that belief in justice has been shaken. They express their horror at having the perpetrators once more at large in society, especially as they had verbally threatened the relatives and lawyers of the victims in court during 2013. The Association also called on the government to do its duty and intervene promptly to prevent any miscarriage of justice.

     

    On 10th March the Justice Minister announced that four of the five would be electronically tagged. The fifth would be monitored using different technology as the tagging system would not work in the area where his family lives.

     

    The trial now involves a total of18 defendants, with 13 added during the process on charges of instigating or otherwise being involved with the crime. Those close to the trial hope that verdicts in the case of the five perpetrators will be issued soon. The prosecution have requested that the five perpetrators each receive three terms of life imprisonment.

     

    Recall that the five defendants murdered Necati Aydin, Ugur Yuksel and Tilmann Geske at the Zirve Publishing House on account of their Christian activities. Their trial opened in November 2007 but became complicated as the investigation into the murders revealed that those behind the actual perpetrators had links to wider conspiracies.

     

    Turkish Christians following the trial request our continued prayers that:

    a.      The families and friends of murdered Christians will know the peace and presence of Jesus

    b.      The Christian community in Malatya would not fear and that they wouldcontinue to show a faithful witness

    c.       The current publicity on this case will facilitate prompt completion of the judicial process

    d.      Judges throughout Turkey will be wise in applying this change in this legal change

    e.      All defendants released under the legal change would not be able to flee the country to avoid judicial processes

    f.        The truth concerning the Malatya murders will be revealed, and all guilty of involvement will be convicted

    g.      All those who aided or perpetrated the murders would have a deep conviction about what they have done, and understand the depths of Jesus’ forgiveness

    h.      All Christians involved will know the Spirit's enabling, equipping and assisting as they persevere in their efforts to promote justice

    i.        All judges, other officials, lawyers and journalists involved will hear the gospel of Jesus, and be drawn to the Father’s love, forgiveness and acceptance.

     

    May be circulated to general mailing lists, outside organisations, and quoted from freely in reports citing "Middle East Concern" as the source of the information.

     

     
  • Iran: three believers arrested as restrictions are imposed on some house church leaders

    Posted on 10th March 2014

     

    Greetings in the name of Jesus

     

    Iranian Christians have requested our prayers following the arrest on 5th March of three believers, Amin Khaki, Hossein Barunzadeh and Rahman Bahman. They were arrested near Shoush, Khuzestan province, together with five other believers, while attending a picnic. The other five present were questioned for several hours and released. The security agents reportedly had arrest warrants for Amin and Hossein, but not for the others.

     

    Amin, a deacon in the fellowship led by Behnam Irani (detained since May 2011), has faced problems from the authorities in recent years. He was arrested on 10th May 2010 in Karaj, charged with anti-government activity and given a one-year suspended sentence (suspended for five years). On 15th December 2013 the homes of Amin and several associates were searched  and computer equipment confiscated. It is understood that a travel ban was imposed on Amin and another church leader in February 2014, forbidding them from leaving Alborz province. If so, he was in breach of this order at the time of his arrest.

     

    There are concerns that these travel bans and the latest arrests are part of a wider campaign to restrict the movement and activities of known ministry leaders.

     

    Christians supporting these believers request our prayers that:

    a.      Amin, Hossein and Rahman will know the peace and presence of Jesus each day, and will remain faithful to Jesus and clear in their testimony

    b.      They will be released soon

    c.       Ministry leaders throughout Iran will know the Spirit’s guiding wisdom when confronted with pressures and restrictions from the authorities

    d.      Behnam and others detained in Iran for their faith or Christian activities will know the Lord’s daily enabling and healing, be cleared of all unjust charges and released

    e.      All officials involved will love mercy, act justly, learn about Jesus and choose to follow Him.

     

    May be circulated to general mailing lists, outside organisations, and quoted from freely in reports citing “Middle East Concern” as the source of the information.

     

     
  • Syria: nuns abducted from Ma’aloula released

    Posted on 10th March 2014

     

    Greetings in the name of Jesus, Emmanuel, God with us.

     

    Syrian Christians rejoice in the news that 13 Greek Orthodox nuns and their three attendants were released overnight and returned to Damascus this morning (10th March) in a prisoner exchange deal. The nuns and attendants are understood to be tired but otherwise well, and report that they were generally treated well by their captors..

     

    These nuns and their attendants were abducted on 2nd December 2013 after Jabhat al-Nusra and four other armed groups attacked Ma’aloula, a historic Christian town north of Damascus. It is understood that most of the 40 nuns at St. Thecla Convent and the orphans in their care were relocated to a safer location before the outbreak of violence. However, the Mother Superior, Pelagia Sayyaf, and some other nuns chose to stay at the Convent. It is these that were abducted when the armed groups took control of the upper part of the town including the ancient quarter in which the convent and several churches are located.

     

    The release follows extensive discreet negotiations between the Syrian government and Jabhat al-Nusra mediated by Lebanese and Qatari officials. The government is releasing 153 Syrian women detained without trial.

     

    Syrian Church leaders have requested our perseverance in prayer for peace and stability in their country. There are several causes of deep distress for many Syrians, including the continued prevalence of kidnapping, denial of access for aid convoys, attacks on aid convoys and the use of siege tactics in several areas employed by numerous parties to the on-going crisis.

     

    Syrian Christians thank us for our prayers and rejoice in the release of these people. They request our continued intercession asking that:

    a.      The nuns of Ma’aloula and their attendants will recover quickly from their ordeal, and be able to resume caring for orphans and others in need

    b.      The two bishops kidnapped in April, a monk missing since early August, two priests kidnapped in February 2013 and other Christians held hostage will be released unharmed

    c.       Syrian Christians will know the close presence of Jesus, the guidance of the Spirit and the protection of the Father

    d.      Violence will cease, peace be restored and the clear rule of law applied equally to all will be established throughout Syria

    e.      The international community, together with those in local control, will act decisively to ensure that humanitarian aid reaches all those in need.

     

    May be circulated to general mailing lists, outside organisations, and quoted from freely in reports citing “Middle East Concern” as the source of the information.

     

     
  • Turkey: legal change might lead to temporary release of murderers of Christians

    Posted on 7th March 2014

     

    Greetings in the name of Jesus, the Good Shepherd

     

    Turkish Christians have requested our prayers following a legal change.

     

    Yesterday (i.e. 6th March) President Abdullah Gul signed a bill that would allow the release of defendants still undergoing a lengthy trial who had been detained for a period of longer than five years. Prior to this, the pre-trial detention limit was ten years in cases linked to terrorism, and five years otherwise. There are known to be 149 prisoners in Turkey who could benefit from this ruling, many on trial for their alleged involvement in conspiring to destabilise the country to create a pretext for a military coup.

     

    Yesterday evening Erhan Tuncel, the man who is accused of instigating the assassination of prominent Armenian journalist Hirant Dink in January 2007, was brought before a local court and released. No formal application for his release had been made.


    Five other potential beneficiaries are the perpetrators of the murder of three members of the Zirve Publishing House in Malatya on 18th April 2007. Recall that in recent years we have requested prayer for the ongoing legal process following the murder of Necati Aydin, Ugur Yuksel and Tilmann Geske on account of their Christian activities. Necati and Tilmann were married, with two and three children respectively, and Ugur was engaged. His fiancee has subsequently married another believer. Five men, aged 19 and 20 at the time, were arrested at the scene and were charged with the murders. Their trial opened in November 2007 but became complicated as the investigation into the murders revealed that those behind the actual perpetrators had links to wider conspiracies.

     

    Lawyers acting for the five perpetrators have made an official application to the court in Malatya for the release of their clients. Lawyers representing the victims’ families have requested that electronic tracking devices be attached to the defendants should they be released pending the outcome of the trial.

     

    Turkish Christians following the trial request our continued prayers that:

    a.      The families and friends of murdered Christians, especially Rakel Dink and Susanne Geske, will know the peace and presence of Jesus

    b.      Judges throughout Turkey will be wise in applying this change in this legal change

    c.       Any defendants released would not be able to flee the country to avoid judicial process

    d.      The truth concerning the Malatya murders will be revealed, and all guilty of involvement will be convicted

    e.      Family members and friends of the Malatya victims will continue to know the peace of Jesus as the trial process continues

    f.        All those who aided or perpetrated the murders would have a deep conviction about what they have done, and understand the depths of Jesus’ forgiveness

    g.      All Christians involved will know the Spirit's enabling, equipping and assisting as they persevere in their efforts to promote justice

    h.      All judges, other officials, lawyers and journalists involved will hear the gospel of Jesus, and be drawn to the Father’s love, forgiveness and acceptance.

     

     

    May be circulated to general mailing lists, outside organisations, and quoted from freely in reports citing "Middle East Concern" as the source of the information.