The Coptic Youth Front held a protest on Thursday outside the Libyan embassy in Cairo demanding the release of all remaining Egyptian Christian detainees in Libya.
Earlier in March, dozens of Egyptian Copts were detained and allegedly tortured after Bibles and pictures of Jesus Christ were found with them. One of them, Ezzat Atallah, died while in Libyan authorities’ custody after being accused alongside others of proselytising in Libya.
“The protests will resume until all Egyptian Christians in Libya are home,” said Magdy Saber, deputy head of the Maspero Youth Union’s media committee.
Maspero Youth Union, alongside other Coptic and political movements, are taking part in the protest. Another protest was held outside the Libyan embassy in Zamalek on Monday by the Coptic Youth Front. The protest was postponed until Thursday amid “disappointment in Egyptian authorities’ lack of action towards the matter”, the front said in a statement.
Nazih Al-Naggari, deputy spokesperson of the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs told AFP that four Christian Egyptians remain in Libyan custody, while 55 others were released on Tuesday.
Ali Al-Ashiry, deputy foreign minister for Consulate Affairs, denied on Thursday that Egyptians are targeted or discriminated against in Libya, reported state-owned news agency MENA.
Al-Ashiry stated that Libya is currently suffering from security problems including attacks on churches and citizens regardless of their political or religious affiliation. He added that those problems are a result of Libya’s transitional period. “Libyan authorities condemn all such violations,” Al-Ashiry said.
The Coptic Youth Front gave Egyptian and Libyan authorities a grace period of 48 hours to release all remaining detainees. “This isn’t a small matter,” Saber said. “There’s a huge question mark on the proliferation of such acts against people who have been living and working in Libya for years. Why are they only being attacked now?”
Reports of Egyptians facing deportation, torture and abuse in Libya have recently risen. Two committees in the Shura Council held meetings on Tuesday attended by representatives of the Foreign Ministry as well as families of those who died or were detained in Libya and the United Arab Emirates, where Egyptians have been facing increasing arrests.