Founder of ASSIST Ministries
BENGHAZI, LIBYA (ANS) -- The Arab Spring was supposed to be about freedom and democracy. Since then we have seen an increase in extremist activities throughout nearly every country that had a revolution.
Protesters in Benghazi during the Arab Spring demonstrations that have since turned sour for many Christians in Libya
Last year, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) had to suspend its activities in eastern and central Libya after its offices in Benghazi and Misrata were attacked.
The aid group was accused by some people of proselytizing activities and distributing Bibles to internally displaced Tanagra people in Benghazi - accusations it strenuously denied.
In the last couple days, seven foreign nationals were arrested in Benghazi under allegations that they were engaged in spreading Christianity and forced conversions.
One of the men being detained in Libya is Sherif, an Egyptian who has resided in Libya and operated a bookstore for many years. He is being subjected to severe torture on a daily basis including hanging from a ceiling, beatings and wetting his clothes and leaving him in a cold room without any heat. They are attempting to force him to confess to things he has not done.
In an interview with Aljazeera, Sherif said, "The revolution brought democracy and freedom. The first principle in democracy is freedom of opinion and belief and if there is no freedom of belief then there is no freedom at all."
On Friday, the loud speaker of the mosque located next door to Sherif's residence called for the people to kill the infidels who brought their book to destroy the Libyan people's faith. Sherif's landlord and neighbors vowed to protect his family.
Christians praying in a church in the Libyan capital Tripoli on Feb. 8, 2013. Since the fall of Gaddafi's regime in 2011, the Christian minority in Libya expressed concern about the rise of Islamic extremism (Photo: AFP)
On any given day, people all over the world can access information about nearly anything they are looking for on the Internet -- some of it good, some of it not so good. Whether through Facebook, Youtube, or any Google search, the world truly is at our fingertips. That is why it is strange that countries that claim to be secure in their religious beliefs are still so afraid of their citizens having access to comparative religious materials. Countries like Libya and other Arab nations fought hard during the Arab Spring for freedom and democracy.
Yet, in Libya as they celebrate the second year anniversary of the revolution, some people seem to be rejecting the very tenets of freedom altogether.
Daily Muslim's practice their faith all over the world, without fear of being forced to convert to another religion. Even in the US, a Christian majority nation, Muslims and Christians live together in peace and can freely read and discuss the other's religious materials at any time. Yet, nearly every Muslim majority nation has fear based laws that prevent Christians from talking about their faith. Why do extremists who claim to be firmly secure in their faith, fear Christianity? Perhaps it isn't Christianity they fear, but freedom.
According to a trusted source, since the 2011 fall of Muammar Gaddafi's regime, the small Christian community in Libya fears for its safety, especially after a church bombing in December killed two people in the Mediterranean town of Dafniya.
"The main Catholic Church's clergyman in Libya have said that Christians are being driven out of eastern Libya by Muslim fundamentalists," said the source who has asked not to be named for security reasons.
The Apostolic Vicar of Tripoli, Giovanni Innocenzo Martinelli, has said the situation was "critical" and the "atmosphere very tense."
Two religious communities in the east of the country -- the Congregation of the Holy Family of Spoleto and the Franciscan Sisters of Child Jesus - were forced to leave "after being pressured by fundamentalists."