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2021 WORLD WATCH LIST #4

LIBYA

Country rank

4

Persecution score

91.92

Last year’s rank

4

Region

Middle East  North Africa

Persecution Type

Islamic oppression (Very strong), Clan oppression (Strong), Organized corruption and crime (Strong)

Persecution Level

Extreme

Population

6,662,000

Christians

34,500 (0.5%) Data source: Johnson T M and Zurlo G A, eds., World Christian Database (Leiden/Boston: Brill, accessed February 2020).

Main Religion

Islam

Government

In transition

Leader

Prime Minister Fayez Sarraj

In cooperation with local partners and churches, Open Doors supports the persecuted church in Libya through:
• Christian literature distribution
• Training
• Socio-economic development

ABOUT LIBYA

What does persecution look like in Libya?

There is no freedom of speech, no freedom of religion and very limited possibility of public church life in Libya. Although there are around 34,500 Christians in the country, only a tiny number (approximately 150) are Libyan – the majority are expatriate and migrant workers.

Libyan Christians from a Muslim background face violent and intense pressure from their family and the wider community to renounce their faith. They – as well as foreign Christians – are also vulnerable to abduction or murder by Islamic militant groups and organized crime groups.

Sharing your faith publicly is illegal in Libya, and those who try to share their Christian faith with others risk violent opposition and arrest. Without a central government, the country is effectively in a state of lawless anarchy. There is little chance of legal justice when Christians are attacked or killed. 

Christians migrating from sub-Saharan Africa are also vulnerable to being held in detention centers being abused, tortured and extorted by those trafficking them. Believers are often forced into intense labor or prostitution.

How women experience persecution

Libyan Christians who converted from Islam are particularly vulnerable to persecution from their families and communities, and have little or no escape from dangerous situations. A woman’s testimony does not carry the same legal weight as a man’s, and she is unlikely to get justice if she is sexually assaulted for her faith. This is sometimes used as a form of punishment for a Christian woman. In general, women have a lower position in Libyan society than men.

How men experience persecution

In general, Christian men face a greater risk of violence in Libya. Those who are migrating from sub-Saharan Africa are often kidnapped and forced into slavery, or held for a ransom.

Men are the breadwinners in Libyan families, and the whole family suffers if a Christian man loses his job or is abducted, or is forced to flee his family.

What has changed this year?

Violence continues to increase in Libya, and there are more verified incidents of attacks and killings. Persecution in all spheres of life has only gotten worse.

Who is most vulnerable to persecution?

Christians are at risk all over the country, but especially vulnerable in areas where Islamic extremist groups are present. Elements who have pledged allegiance to ISIS still maintain a presence in the wider region around Sirte. Other extremist groups are in control of areas in and around the capital, Tripoli. Expatriate Christians avoid traveling in general, but especially in areas where there might be checkpoints.

Christians who are migrating from other areas of Africa, aiming to reach Europe, are often held in overcrowded detention centers around Tripoli. Others are handed directly to criminal officials or groups by their human traffickers, and forced into intensive agricultural labor or prostitution.    

How can I help Christians in Libya?

What does Open Doors do to help Christians in Libya?

In cooperation with local partners and churches, Open Doors supports the church in North Africa through training, literature distribution, socio-economic development and advocacy.

Pray

– Pray for Libyan believers who are under immense pressure, particularly those who are arrested because of their faith. Pray for protection and release.

– Pray for those in power in Libya. Pray for peace and stability, and for an end to the proxy civil war. Years of anarchy and power struggles have taken many lives and eroded hope for the future, and Christians and other minorities have become very vulnerable in such a situation of lawlessness.

– Pray for new converts who have been baptised. Pray that they will find a group of believers to join – and rejoice that they have found Jesus. 

A PRAYER FOR LIBYA
Lord, we ask for Your blessing on Libya and those who follow You there. Please give strength and perseverance to those who cannot publicly praise You or have any semblance of church life. Protect them from violence and kidnapping, and change the hearts of those who persecute Christians

Your gift today will show our persecuted brothers and sisters in Libya, and other countries in the World Watch List they are loved and remembered by you.