Libya arrests Christian 'missionaries'


Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) President Joseph Kabila (L) shakes hands with Catholic Archbishop Laurent Monsengwo (R) at the end of an ecumenical ceremony, 17 October 2004 in KIsangani during his landmark visit to the troubled east of the vast central African country. The two-hour service was held at Saint Joseph's Church in Kisangani's Tchopo district, which was especially hard hit during the DRC's 1998-2003 war.


Marco Longari

Four foreigners have been arrested in the Libyan city of Benghazi on suspicion of carrying out Christian missionary activities.

An Egyptian, a South African, a South Korean and a Swedish-American were arrested last week after authorities found them printing books calling for conversion to Christianity.

Proselytizing is a criminal offense in Libya, and is punishable by death.

"We are a 100 percent Muslim country and this kind of action affects our national security," said Hussein Bin Hameida, according to Al Jazeera English.

According to the Guardian, Libya has never known a Christian minority. Unlike Tunisia and Egypt, where Christian minorities have been persecuted, the few churches in Libya are solely used by foreign residents.

Embassies for all four of the arrested individuals are reportedly aiding their citizens. An investigation was underway on Sunday, with suspects due to be "handed over to the intelligence services soon," a security official told Agence France-Presse.