More than 40 Egyptian Coptic men from Maragha in Sohag, some 450km south of Cairo, were caught and detained by the Libyan authorities two weeks ago. Their families in Sohag have sent several appeals to the Egyptian Foreign Ministry to take action with their Libyan counterparts to release the detained Copts. The families expressed fears that their detained sons may be taken by Islamist Jihadis to face the same fate as the 20 Coptic martyrs who were beheaded in Sirte, Libya, in 2015.
Sources from the Libyan Embassy in Cairo, however, confirmed that the Egyptians have been detained by Libyan authorities not by any other party, stressing that there can be no repeat of the gruesome 2015 beheadings.
Embassy officials explained that the Egyptians were detained among more than 5,000 detainees of various nationalities, mostly Africans, to be investigated under a move to combat illegal migration. They said that traffickers use quarters of migrant workers in Tripoli to hide illegal migrants bound for Europe until they could be shipped across the Mediterranean to Europe.
The Libyan Embassy sources stressed that the Libyan government is keen on good relations with Egypt, and will not allow any harm to the detained Egyptian workers. Officials are closely following up on the matter, they said, to resolve the crisis soon and release the detained Egyptians.
All the detained Copts come from Sohag, most of them from Maragha and Jeheina. The brother of Malak Khalifa Fikry, one of the Coptic detainees, told Watani that Fikry had left to Tripoli with a group of Sohag youth, all of them on valid visas. In Tripoli, he said, they resided in the neighbourhood of Qarqarish which houses scores of Egyptians among thousands of other migrants.
17 October 2021