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» 01/08/2013
LIBYA
Libya, Msgr. Martinelli: the Coptic Orthodox and all Christians are not a target of extremists
For the Apostolic Vicar of Tripoli the attack against the church of St. George in Dafniya is the result of social unrest sweeping the country. The Coptic community celebrates Christmas without any more threats.

Measured (AsiaNews) - "The Orthodox Copts in Libya celebrated their Christmas in peace. The late December attack on the church of St. George in Dafniya is the first against Christians in Libya. It is, however, an isolated case, which should be read in the light of social and political instability sweeping the country". This according to Msgr. Martinelli, Apostolic Vicar of Tripoli, who on January 6 visited the Coptic Orthodox community of Tripoli, bringing with him the Catholic Churches best wishes for the Orthodox Christmas which was celebrated yesterday.

On 30 December, a group of unknown persons attacked the Coptic Orthodox Church of St. George in the province of Dafniya in Misrata. Two Egyptian nationals lost their lives in the explosion. Two more were injured. The attack took place shortly after the end of the mass. The group of assailants waited until the faithful were leaving the Church  targeting them with grenades. Timothy Beshara, a priest of the Coptic Orthodox Church in Libya, said that the building was severely damaged, especially the refectory which is now a pile of rubble.

At first, the case was dismissed as a mere "accident", but on pressure from the Egyptian authorities, the government in Tripoli launched investigations to arrest the culprits and dampen rumors of a possible rise of Islamic fundamentalism against Christians.

For Msgr. Martinelli "Christians must above all ask for the protection of the Libyan authorities - says the bishop - helping this new country to grow." According to the prelate there has always been Islamic fundamentalism in Libya, but now the strength of the Islamists is on the wane.

Under the Gaddafi regime about 1.5 million Egyptians worked in Libya. For years, they were the second largest ethnic group after the Libyans. With the start of the civil war more than half of the migrants returned home, but many came back after the fall of Gaddafi. Among them are several thousand Coptic Orthodox Christians, whom together with Catholics and Protestants make up the small local Christian community, which accounts for about 3% of the population.

The coastal town of Dafniya is located about 30 km west of Misrata. The area is still controlled by armed rebel contingents and is the only one that still has roadblocks in the hands of militants. In Misrata, Benghazi and Derna there are different cells of Islamic extremist militant guerrillas also from other Arab countries. On 11 September a group of extremists close to al-Qaeda attacked the U.S. consulate in Benghazi with heavy weapons, killing the U.S. ambassador to Tripoli Christopher Stevens and three members of his staff. (S.C.)

 


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See also
05/14/2013 LIBYA
Benghazi in revolt against Islamists following deadly attack
07/18/2012 LIBYA
Elections: progressive alliance of former NTC Prime Minister wins
03/15/2013 LIBYA
Benghazi, the Coptic Church of St. Mark is torched
03/05/2013 LIBYA
Gunmen attack Coptic Orthodox church in Benghazi, assault two clergymen
12/28/2010 PHILIPPINES
Churches full in Mindanao despite concerns over attacks

Editor's choices
EGYPT - ISLAM
What Tayeb and Sisi said is big step towards a revolution in Islam
by Samir Khalil SamirThe grand imam of Al-Azhar slammed literalist interpretations of the Qur'an and the Sunnah, as fundamentalists and Islamic terrorists do. He supports the urgent need for Islam's reform, especially in terms of teaching lay people and clerics. He also calls for an end to mutual excommunication (takfir) between Sunnis and Shias. Egyptian President al-Sisi chose to fight the Islamic state group after it beheaded 21 Coptic Christians, whom he called "Egyptian citizens" with full rights.
SAUDI ARABIA - ISLAM
For head of Al-Azhar, religious education reform is needed to stop Islamic extremismFor Ahmed al-Tayeb, it is urgent to come up with new educational programmes to avoid "corrupt interpretations" of the Qur'an and Sunnah. Islamic terrorism undermines the unity of the Muslim world. He blames Mideast tensions on a "new global colonialism allied to world Zionism". a speech by the Saudi king is read at the conference.
HONG KONG - CHINA - VATICAN
It looks like someone is trying to shout us down
by Card. Joseph Zen Ze-kiunThe widespread optimism concerning the dialogue between the Holy See and China is largely groundless. Some Chinese bishops unable to speak freely are asked "leading" questions. The key issues remain unresolved, namely episcopal appointments and the fate of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association. Benedict XVI's Letter to Chinese Catholics, also cited by Pope Francis, provides guidelines. No agreement is better than a bad agreement. What happened to Msgr. Cosma Shi Enxiang and Msgr. James Su Zhimin? Hong Kong's bishop emeritus, champion of religious freedom in China, delivers a vibrant reflection.

Dossier

by Giulio Aleni / (a cura di) Gianni Criveller
pp. 176
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