Over 100 Christian Copts from Egypt who were living in Libya were arrested in Benghazi on Thursday for suspicion of being Christian emissaries. This follows news from last week that four foreigners were arrested in Libya for suspicion of “proselytizing” Christianity. These four now face the possibility of being put to death.
“Proselytizing is forbidden in Libya. We are a 100 percent Muslim country and this kind of action affects our national security,” security official Hussein Bin Hmeid told Reuters last week.
A video was later posted online that depicted what appear to be Libyan militia agents interrogating some of the captured Copts. The prisoners sit on the floor, their heads shaved and looking like “concentration camp prisoners,” according to FrontPageMag. Additionally, the prisoners appear to have been tortured, with the Coptic cross wrist tattoo having been burned off with acid.
“The Coptic Church has sent an official request to the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which in response has begun negotiations with its Libyan counterpart to resolve the issue and release the detained Christians,” Ahram Online quotes a source as saying.
The fact that people are being arrested in Libya for their religion seems to contradict U.S. and UN rationale for supporting the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi two years ago, which was based on the rebels seeking to implement freedom and democracy. The rebels that were fighting Gaddafi’s forces were listed as “freedom fighters” by the Western media, despite having known connections and associations with al Qaeda, with many members having fought in Iraq and Afghanistan against American and allied forces. Many of the Libyan rebels killed American troops and are now fighting in Syria.
The arrests also follow the Sept. 11 attack in Benghazi on the American consulate that claimed the lives of four Americans, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens.
President Obama appears to be reluctant to deal with the violence in Libya that has resulted from his administration’s support for the al Qaeda fighters. In October, the government of Russia proposed a resolution to the United Nations that sought to deal with the violence in the Libyan town of Bani Walid, which was under siege at the time. The United States decided to block this resolution.
“Blocking a draft statement that called to solve the country’s political problems without violence is very strange,” said Russian envoy Vitaly Churkin. “This is a case when it is difficult to explain the US delegation’s actions in rational terms.”
According to Lawrence Freeman of news magazine Executive Intelligence Review, the U.S. government is not interested in stability in the region.
“The ambassador from Russia made a perfectly reasonable proposal to quiet down the violence,” Freeman said. “And he would expect that the United States, as a super power, would respond in a rational manner. The problem is that President Obama and his UN envoy Susan Rice – they are not interested in developing peace in Libya and in the whole Middle East area. And therefore they are going to torpedo any moves that the Russians make that would tend to quiet the situation down.”