Statement by HG Bishop Angaelos re Libya

Escalating attacks on Coptic Christians in Libya

Statement by His Grace Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of The Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom

5 January 2015

It is deeply concerning to witness the unprovoked, targeted and escalating attacks on Egyptian Coptic Christians in Libya, particularly but not exclusively in Sirte.

In recent years Coptic Christians in Libya have endured horrific acts of brutality that include the bombing of churches, abductions, torture, and execution style murders. In recent weeks alone we have seen the murder of a Coptic Christian couple and their thirteen year old daughter in Sirte, and the kidnapping of thirteen Coptic men in the same area. SinceDecember 2014 to date there have been reports of at least twenty abductions of Coptic Christians in Libya and these numbers continue to escalate.

In personal conversation with His Holiness Pope Tawadros II, Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of the See of St Mark, as well as representatives from the Diocese of Boheira and Pentapolis, we are aware that the Egyptian government is liaising with Libyan authorities and working to provide safe passage for Coptic Christians returning from Libya, an initiative welcomed at this time.

Out of serious concern, and in light of these circumstances, a meeting is currently being sought with the Libyan Ambassador to Britain for further discussion of these constantly evolving events.

At a time when Coptic and other Christian families are preparing to celebrate the Feast of the Nativity, we pray for those who are literally concerned for their lives in Libya as well as for countless other Christians and minority groups across the Middle East who are victims of war, violence, and unrest.