Libya (MNN) — What if you couldn’t leave your home for fear of being kidnapped and murdered?
This is the reality for Egyptian Christians in Libya. After Islamic State (IS) murdered 21 Christians in January, Egyptian believers have faced ongoing threats, kidnappings, and killings.
Voice of the Martyrs reports that as the fear increases, IS is offering money to Muslims who divulge which of their neighbors are Christians. Nearly one third of the residents in these areas are Coptic Christians.
Many people living with Christians are afraid to be seen with them. Bus drivers are even wary of transporting them because of IS checkpoints. In the case that Christians are given a ride, they have to pay a higher fare to get where they are going.
The 21 Christians who were murdered lived in the Samalout village in the rural province of Minya. They were abducted by IS in late December and early January near Sirte, Libya. The militant group confirmed their religious identity by reviewing their I.D. cards; they let the Muslims go and murdered the Christians.
The number of Coptic Christians in Egypt is estimated to be about 11 million–about 15% of the country’s population. The Egyptian government has reportedly issued a payment of 100,000 Egyptian pounds (roughly $13,000) to the families of each of the executed men, also declaring that they should receive free education and healthcare. The government also called for seven days of mourning following the killings.
In many instances, Egyptian Christians moved to Libya in search of work as their own economy collapsed in recent years. The Egyptian government is doing everything it can to help its citizens return to Egypt, but these citizens are now too afraid to leave their house to return home for fear of persecution.
Open Doors USA reports that seven Egyptian Christians were killed at gunpoint on a beach in Libya. The murdered believers ranged in age from 17 to 25. As Christians face abuse and torture from Islamists, please pray that their faith in God would be strengthened and that His peace would replace the fear in their hearts.