Christians are being driven out of eastern Libya by Muslim fundamentalists, the Catholic Church's main clergyman in the country told the Vatican missionary news agency Fides.
The situation was "critical" and the "atmosphere very tense"
in the Cyrenaica region, the Apostolic Vicar of Tripoli Giovanni
Innocenzo Martinelli said in the interview Thursday.
He said two religious communities are leaving "after being pressured
by fundamentalists", adding that the Apostolic Vicar of Benghazi was
cautioned to take shelter ahead of a large-scale demonstration on
"In past days, the Congregation of the Holy Family of Spoleto who had
been there for nearly 100 years were forced to abandon Derna," east of
the main eastern city of Benghazi, he said.
"In Barce (located between Benghazi and Derna) the Franciscan Sisters of the Child Jesus will leave their home in coming days."
On Friday, Martinelli told Vatican Radio that for some time now fundamentalism has governed decisions in Libya.
Christians have voiced fear of a rise in sectarian sentiment in the
overwhelmingly Muslim nation following the 2011 revolt that toppled
dictator Moamer Kadhafi and in which hardline Islamists played a major
Before the uprising, three percent of Libya's population of around
6.3 million were Christian. Now only a couple thousand of them remain,
with the majority of them expatriates.
In December, two Egyptians died in a blast at a Christian Coptic
church in the Libyan town of Dafniya, and two others were wounded.