2014-10-23 18:29:00

How Catholics and other Christians are faring in Egypt and in Libya

The Catholic Director of Communications in Egypt, Fr. Rafik Greiche,  has told the Catholic Charity, “AID to the Church in Need,” that Christians in the country are afraid of the Islamic militants based in neighboring Libya, who are sending weapons to fundamentalists in  Egypt. Similarly, the presence of Islamic militants in the Sinai  Peninsula is a source of concern. He noted, however, that in spite of that, Christians in Egypt are much better than they were when the Moslem Brotherhood was in power. He says, security has improved and aggression against them is being fought by the state.  Fr. Greiche acknowledged that sometimes there are isolated incidents between Moslems and Christians in some villages, but these are not inspired by the state as it was during the reign of the Moslem Brotherhood.

Commenting on the country’s President, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, Fr. Greiche said  the President had demonstrated that he wanted to work with all Christian Churches. He has met all the Bishops and other leaders from the Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant Churches, and affirmed the right of Christians to have their churches and to pray. His government, he added, is working with the Churches to draft a law governing the construction of churches. The law allows Christian symbols such as crucifixes and bells to be mounted visibly on the outside. It also withdraws the approval of the construction of new places of worship from state security authorities.

Meanwhile in Libya, the Apostolic Vicar of Benghazi in Libya, Bishop Sylvester Magro, has said the Catholic clergy in eastern Libya will continue to minister to local church members despite an upsurge in fighting around the city of Benghazi.  Speaking on Wednesday to reporters of the Catholic News Service, he said like other local citizens, Christians are not receiving protection from the state and the situation is too tense to permit normal life. He added that Catholics continue to offer prayers for peace, although, fewer people come to teach for fear of being attacked by the fighters. He clarified, however, that Christians are not being targeted by the fighters, but there have been incidents when armed groups broke into churches to loot. Similarly, Islamic radicals have attempted to stir interreligious resentments. The Catholic community in Libya is made up mainly of migrant workers and diplomats.  Libya has been unstable since 2011 when NATO attacked it and led to the overthrow and killing of the then Head of State, Muammar Gaddafi.

(John Baptist Tumusiime)

 e-mail: engafrica@vatiradio.va

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