- (Reuters/Louafi Larbi)
- (Photo: REUTERS/Ismail Zitouny)
Christians in Libya are safe and well despite the ongoing clashes and imminent fall of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, according to a report released by Open Doors.
The report stated that following Gaddafi’s defiant call to his loyalists to fight the rebels trying to oust him, Christians met in Tripoli to pray for the country and the future of Christian populations in the region.
Gaddafi’s audio message called upon his loyalists to take Tripoli back from the “devils and traitors” that have overrun the country and fight until “victory or martyrdom.”
The call has been adding to fears expressed by global leaders and political analysts that a Tripoli “bloodbath” could be forthcoming.
However, Open Doors, a Christian persecution watchdog, has reported that Christians in the capital are coming together each day to pray and encourage each other and that thus far they have remained safe.
The group estimates that indigenous Christians in the country are very few, numbering just 150. However, the country did previously have a sizable Christian population of migrant workers prior to the protests against Gaddafi that began in February.
Most of the migrant workers that were Christian have now left the country, though pockets remain. Nevertheless, Open Doors reported them as “doing well” under the current chaotic environment.
The country coordinator for Open Doors spoke of the situation, saying, “Getting in touch with Christians in Tripoli is not easy. Phone service is off and on or not answered, but I understand that the internet is up in Tripoli again, so I expect communication opportunities will improve in the next few days.”
The organization is uncertain how Christians will fare in a Gaddafi-free Libya, saying in the report, “No one knows. The government will be Islamic, but the question remains how strict it will be and how strong fundamentalist influences will be shaping the new Libya.”
Meanwhile, in the fifth day of fighting in the capital, rebels continue to battle it out with Gaddafi loyalists while the hunt for the nearly 42-year leader continues.
Pockets of the city are still controlled by Gaddafi loyalists and the rebels are struggling to take control of the city.
Rebels have announced that they will offer a $2 million bounty on Gaddafi’s head and NATO has been reported to be aiding the rebels in the hunt for the leader.
The Associated Press stated that Gaddafi’s spokesperson, Moussa Ibrahim, said in a phone interview that Gaddafi is hiding in a safe place and healthy while leading the fight against the Libyan rebels.
Ibrahim added that Gaddafi is “indeed leading the battle for our freedom and independence” and that Gaddafi is able to continue to fight the resistance to his leadership for “weeks, months, and years.”