A large number of Copts—the exact number has not been announced, it has been said to be anywhere between 50 and 102 —working in Libya have been detained and charged with ‘preaching Christianity’. The Libyan authorities claimed that the detainees had in their possession Bibles, Christian books and pictures.
Anba Pachomeus; Archbishop of Beheira, Matrouh, and Pentapolis (Libya); who is currently in Addis Ababa for the election and enthronement of the new pope of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, a sister Church of the Coptic Orthodox Church; is closely following the matter. He is in constant contact with the Egyptian ambassador in Tripoli and the Egyptian consul in Benghazi.
The incident came under fire from rights activists. The lawyer Naguib Gabrail said that the detention of the Copts under the pretext that they were preaching Christianity was a very serious precedent that violated human rights and that may place Libya under international censure. In case the Foreign Ministry and the Arab League fail to resolve the crisis, he said, “we will have to resort to the international community.”
1 March 2013