12. AWR Daily Overview, March 6, 2013: 5 Coptic detained for proselytizing in Libya

Article summary: 

Bishop Pachomius of al-Beheira said that the Egyptian Church is following up on the detained Copts in Libya through calls with Egypt’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Libya Embassy in Cairo (Author not mentioned, Christian Post, Feb. 25). Read full text in English.

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Najīb Jubrā’īl, head of the Egyptian Union for Human Rights, said that the five Coptic detainees are: ‘Izat Hakīm, ‘Isá Ibrāhīm, ‘Adil Shākir, Shirīf Ramsīs, and ‘Imād Sidīq. He added that the detainees are being tortured by the Libyan Preventive Security Unit and have to be released immediately. 

Please read full text of “Libyan Authorities Torture Arrested Coptic Christian Accused of Proselytizing” at “Christian Postwebsite:

Libyan authorities continue to imprison Christians under accusations of proselytization. As of last week the number reached to seven in custody, including an Egyptian Copt named Sherif Ramses who sources say has been tortured.

Morning Star News (MSN), an independent Christian-focused news agency, reported that the Libyan Preventive Security Unit arrested three Egyptian Christians on 13 and 16 February, in addition to the four foreign Christians previously arrested this month on charges of proselytization in Benghazi.

It added that of the four, only Sherif Ramses has been publicly identified.

As with others arrested, Ramses was alleged to have 30,000 Bibles, a number which has been inflated in statements by Libyan police to 45,000.

It said that Ramses ran a small printing service in Benghazi and a bookstore that sold both Christian and secular books.

"All the detainees were being held in Benghazi," the paper noted, though it added that the prisoners have yet to be officially charged.

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The paper continued, "Preventative Security spokesperson Hussein Bin Hmeid said in a statement to Reuters that the four Christians originally arrested were printing books calling for conversion to Christianity. He said the country is 100 percent Muslim and that proselytizing 'affects our national security.'"

MSN quoted sources close to the arrests as saying that Ramses has been tortured, noting that he was severely bruised. Several other sources independently told the newspaper that Preventative Security was able to get the names of other Christians in Libya from Ramses, possibly by accessing information on his cell phone.

Rumors were also circulating throughout Libya about another wave of arrests that took place on 17 February in Tripoli.

Regarding these arrests, MSN said that its sources in Libya reported that no one has been able to contact these detainees, learn their location or even get an estimate of the number of those arrest.

"They say it was a large group," the paper said a source in Cairo said. "They were supposed to be released but there has been no word."

Sources added that Ramses would most likely stand trial, while the other detainees would probably be released.

They added its unknown what penalty a guilty verdict would bring, as a law against proselytization is from the previous regime and Libya has yet to approve a new constitution or penal code.

Used with permission from MidEast Christian News (MCN). Read more from MCN by clicking here.

(Author not mentioned, Christian Post, Feb. 25).Read full text in English.

(‘Abd al-Wahāb Sha’bān, al-Wafd, Mar. 6, p. 3). Read original text in Arabic.

A Coptic Orthodox Church source said that Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II will ordain six new monks from different monasteries on Sunday, March 10, 2013. The new monks will be distributed in new dioceses. Further, the Pope will consecrate four general bishops in certain dioceses that the Pope divided recently, including Canada (Majdī Fikrī, al-Dustūr, Mar. 6, p. 2). Read original text in Arabic.

Al-Misrīyūn reported on Ahmad Muhammad al-Mahdī's (previously known as Mikhael Labīb Mikhael) “alleged” story that the former State Security Agency arrested his sons, Muhammad and Islām. Moreover, the Church “allegedly” offered him one million Egyptian Pounds to leave Islam and when he refused, the Church chased him for seven years.

He said that he went to the Azhar seven years ago to announce his Islam, a Coptic Orthodox priest came and offered him one million Egyptian Pounds to convert back to Christianity (‘Awad Muhammad ‘Awad, al-Misrīyūn, Mar. 6, p. 4) Read original text in Arabic.

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