Four alleged Christian missionaries have been arrested in Libya for distributing Biblical literature, an offence that could carry the death penalty.
The four were arrested in Benghazi on suspicion of printing books about Christianity, security official Hussein Bin Hmeid said.
He told Reuters: “They were arrested on Tuesday at a publishing house where they were printing thousands of books that called for conversion to Christianity.
“Proselytising is forbidden in Libya. We are a 100 per cent Muslim country and this kind of action affects our national security.”
The private security firm, Preventative Security, which is affiliated to the government, arrested an Egyptian, a South African, a Korean and a Swedish-US citizen.
He said the four would be interrogated and then handed over to Libyan intelligence authorities in a few days.
There is small Christian population in Libya, with tough restrictions on religious practice. Inter-marriage with Muslims is forbidden unless the Christian partner converts to Islam.
There are estimated to be around 300,000 Christians in the country, many of them immigrant workers from Europe and the rest of Africa. But churches in the country, of which there are five in Tripoli alone, have rarely been attacked or Christians targeted, unlike in Egypt or Tunisia. Read more