2013-04-08 14:31:00

Russian Orthodox Church alarmed by persecution of Christians in Lebanon

Moscow, April 8, Interfax - The Moscow Patriarchate has called for protecting the Christian population in Libya.

"Some 100,000 Christians lived in Libya before the beginning of the civil confrontation in 2011. Now there are only several thousand of them. The number of cases of violence against and discrimination of Christians has sharply increased," a statement of the communication service of the Department for External Church Relations of the Russian Church says.

The document says that the past few months have seen a big number of attacks, arrests and even torture of Libyan Christians. In February-March, there were attacks on churches and clergymen, scores of Copts were arrested and tortured on charters of proselytism. Catholic charitable monastic orders were forced to leave the country due to threats.

The 48 Copts detained in Benghazi at the beginning of March were tortured and humiliated; one of them died as a result. On March 13, the EU mission in Libya urged the country's leadership to observe the rights of convicts. There have also been other instances of discrimination and persecution of Christians, the statement says.

"We can state with regret that the world community is paying unduly little attention to such crying cases of discrimination of the Christian minority in Libya," the statement says and urges the Libyan authorities to take energetic efforts to retain Christian presence in that country.