» 03/13/2013, 00.00
EGYPT - LIBYA
Benghazi, Coptic Christians denounce torture and attempts to convert them to Islam
44 of the 48 Christian vendors arrested in the market of Benghazi in February on charges of proselytizing have returned home. The Salafis forced them to say the prayer of conversion to Islam and spit on the images of Pope Shenouda III. Four of them are still in the hands of the Libyan police.
Cairo (AsiaNews) - Libyan Salafis are responsible for torture, attempts to forcibly
convert and desecration of Christian imagery. This is according to 44 of the 48 Egyptian Coptic vendors on their
return home. "They forced us to pronounce the al-shahaadatayn - said one
of them - the proclamation of the Islamic faith and spit on images of Pope
Shenouda III." So far, the Egyptian government has not reacted to the
episode that involved its citizens nor charges of religious discrimination.
However, the relatives of the victims are demanding justice and accuse the Islamist
government of protecting the Libyan Salafists.
Arrested in mid-February in the Benghazi market, accused of publicizing religious
images and illegal immigration, the Coptic Orthodox were held for several days
in a jail guarded by Salafi armed guards. They were released after several days
of negotiations between the Egyptian and the Libyan governments accused on
several occasions of failing to protect foreign nationals in its territory. Currently
four Christians are still detained in Libya for further investigation.
The case has also sparked outrage among the population of Benghazi, which in
October revolted against the Salafi militias accused of having organized the
attack on the U.S. consulate in which the US Ambassador Christopher Stevens was
Further aggravating relations between Cairo and Tripoli, but also between
the Government of Benghazi and its people, is the case of Ezzat Atallah, also
Egyptian and Christian, who died last March 10 in a prison in the Cyrenaica capital
in mysterious circumstances. Like his 48 fellow vendors, he was arrested by a
Salafi militia on charges of publicizing religious images. According to the
Libyan authorities the man, 45 years old and father of two, suffered from
diabetes and heart problems and likely died of natural causes. To date, the
family has denied the statements made by the government in Benghazi. In an
interview with the Christian Middle East News Agency (Mcn-direct), Atallah's
sister points out that "my brother never had diabetes or heart."
Since the fall of Muammar Gaddafi cases of aggression or attacks on foreign
minorities living in Libya have increased. The communities most affected include
the Egyptians, Coptic Christians especially Catholics and Orthodox. In
February, an armed group raided a church in the Cyrenaica capital and attacked
two Coptic priests, Fr. Paul Isaac and his assistant. At the end of February, four foreigners - an
Egyptian, a South African, a South Korean and a Swede with U.S. passport - were
arrested on charges of distributing Bibles and other religious material. They
are imprisoned in a prison in Tripoli, awaiting trial.
The presence of Islamic militants is also affecting the Catholic religious
orders present for decades on Libyan territory, engaged in healthcare and
looking after the elderly. In January, the Islamists prompted the flight of the
Franciscan Sisters of the Infant Jesus from Barce and the Ursuline Sisters of
the Sacred Heart of Jesus from Beida. In
October it was instead the turn to the nuns of the Convent of the Holy
Family of Spoleto based in Derna, who were forced to leave Libya due to
continuous threats from Islamic extremists, despite the opposition of the
inhabitants of the city. (S.C.)
12/03/2013 EGYPT - LIBYA
Christian dies in Benghazi: wrath of Egyptian Copts against Libya explodes in Cairo
Hundreds of Copts burning flags and throwing stones at the Libyan Embassy in Cairo. They demand justice for the death of Ezzat Atallah, a Christian who died in a prison in Benghazi. The Islamist government charged with doing nothing for Christian migrants to avoid diplomatic problems.
Benghazi, the Coptic Church of St. Mark is torched
The attack took place last night. Authors of the act Still unknown. The building had been attacked a few weeks ago.
08/05/2011 EGYPT - ISLAM
At least 9 dead and two churches burned near Cairo
Clashes at the church of St. Mina in north-east of the capital. Church of the Virgin Mary and the Al Azra burnt. Hundreds injured. The Salafists have accused the Coptic Church of holding women who have converted to Islam prisoners.
Gunmen attack Coptic Orthodox church in Benghazi, assault two clergymen
Islamists try to lynch Fr Paul Isaac, an Egyptian Coptic Orthodox priest, and his assistant. Although the incident occurred on 3 February, it was only reported last night. This is the third attack against the country's Christian community. The Libyan government condemns the attack, calling it an attack against Islam.
26/02/2015 EGYPT - LIBYA - ISLAM
The pain of the families of the 21 beheaded Egyptian martyrs, praise for Egypt's offensive in Libya
This is the story of the last conversations the families had with the 21 Egyptian Copts killed by Islamic State militants. Some of them were planning to go home, fearing tensions and growing extremist violence. Family members express regret that the prime minister and village authorities did not visit.
VATICAN - USA
Pope to Trump: America’s greatness is measured by its attention to the poor
Pope Francis exalts the "rich spiritual and ethical values that have shaped the history of the American people” and the nation’s “commitment to the advancement of human dignity and freedom worldwide ". Concerns " for the poor, the outcast and those in need who, like Lazarus, stand before our door ". The oath Trump preceded by various prayers of Catholic, Protestant, Jewish Representatives. The slogan "America first" will guide political choices. String criticism of the establishment. China’s caution and the enthusiasm of the president of Taiwan.
CHINA - UNITED STATES
The Trump era begins: The China-US relationship and the risk of war
As the inauguration ceremony of the Trump presidency approaches, the Propaganda Bureau of the Chinese Communist Party has banned all journalists from “unauthorized criticism" of Trump’ words and deeds. According to the great dissident Wei Jingsheng there is a chance that Trump will force China into fair trade deals, possibly leading to political and legal reforms. A trade war is an option.
20/01/2017 CHINA - UNITED STATES
AsiaNews IS ALSO A MONTHLY!
AsiaNews monthly magazine (in Italian) is free.