What does persecution look like in Libya? What is life like for Christians?
There is no freedom of speech, no freedom of religion and very limited possibility of public church life in Libya. Although there are around 34,500 Christians in the country, only a tiny number (approximately 150) are Libyan—the majority are expatriate and migrant workers.
Libyan Christians from a Muslim background face violent and intense pressure from their family and the wider community to renounce their faith. They—as well as foreign Christians—are also vulnerable to abduction or murder by Islamic militant groups and organized crime groups.
Sharing your faith publicly is illegal in Libya, and those who try to share their Christian faith with others risk violent opposition and arrest. Without a central government, the country is effectively in a state of lawless anarchy. There is little chance of legal justice when Christians are attacked or killed.
Christians migrating from sub-Saharan Africa are also vulnerable to being held in detention centers being abused, tortured and extorted by their traffickers. Believers are often forced into intense labor or prostitution.
What has changed in Libya?
Violence continues to increase in Libya, and there are more verified incidents of attacks and killings. Persecution in all spheres of life has only gotten worse.
Who is most vulnerable to persecution?
Christians are at risk all over the country, but especially vulnerable in areas where Islamic extremist groups are present. Elements who have pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group still maintain a presence in the wider region around Sirte. Other extremist groups are in control of areas in and around the capital, Tripoli. Expatriate Christians avoid traveling in general, but especially in areas where there might be checkpoints.
Christians who are migrating from other areas of Africa, aiming to reach Europe, are often held in overcrowded detention centers around Tripoli. Others are handed directly to criminal officials or groups by their human traffickers, and forced into intensive agricultural labor or prostitution.
What does Open Doors do to help Christians in North Africa?
In cooperation with local partners and churches, Open Doors supports the church in North Africa through training, literature distribution, socio-economic development and advocacy.
Population statistic: Johnson T M and Zurlo G A, eds., World Christian Database (Leiden/Boston: Brill, accessed February 2020).
Pray for Libya
Pray for Libyan believers who are under immense pressure, particularly those who are arrested because of their faith. Pray for protection and release.
Pray for those in power in Libya. Pray for peace and stability, and for an end to the proxy civil war. Years of anarchy and power struggles have taken many lives and eroded hope for the future, and Christians and other minorities have become very vulnerable in such a situation of lawlessness.
Pray for new converts who have been baptized. Pray that they will find a group of believers to join – and rejoice that they have found Jesus.
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