Egypt Reports Release of Christians Detained in Libya after Human Rights Group Uproar

Credit: CSW

The foreign ministry of Egypt has reported the release of six Christian Egyptians who had been abducted and “illegally detained” in Libya on February 6.

“The men, all relatives from Egypt’s southern city of Sohag, were abducted after traveling to the lawless North African country in search of work in early February,” AP has reported Friday, February 17, quoting the men’s family lawyer, Amir Nassif, adding, “The six men will shortly return to Egypt”.

The reported release of the six Egyptian Christians came a couple of days after the UK-based human rights foundation, Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), denouncing the kidnapping and detention, which they termed the “latest brutality committed against Egyptian Christians in Libya.”

In a Thursday, Friday 15 statement, CSW says the six men who had traveled to Libya’s capital, Tripoli, for work, on February 6, were stopped at an illegal checkpoint after leaving the airport and transported to an unknown location. Their Libyan driver was reportedly released immediately by the abductors.

Mervyn Thomas, CSW Founder President, said, “The fact that these men were abducted so soon upon arrival and are being held with many other foreign nationals highlights the prevalence of kidnapping for ransom in that country.”


Mr. Thomas called on the Libyan and Egyptian governments to “intervene swiftly to secure the release of these six men and all those held with them,” and added, “Their kidnappers must be held to account.”

The CSW official also called on the international community “to press those who are in power in Libya to crack down on extremist and criminal groups and address the appalling discriminatory targeting and extortion of religious minorities and refugees.”

According to Coptic Solidarity, a US-based organization concerned with the rights of Copts in Egypt, the kidnappers were demanding a ransom of 15,000 Libyan Dinars (approximately 3,117 USD) per captive.

Coptic Solidarity reported that the families of the abducted Copts were pleading with the Egyptian government for urgent help.

The families of the captives “are willing to sell their own village homes to pay for the ransom – though their value would hardly come near making ransom,” Coptic Solidarity reported.

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The abduction and detention came a few days ahead of the eighth anniversary of the killing of 21 Egyptian Christians by Islamic State (ISIS) fighters in Libya.

The 15 February 2015 murders prompted Egypt’s president, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, to launch air strikes against ISIS in Eastern Libya, and declare the victims “national martyrs”. The Coptic Orthodox Church also designated February 15 as Contemporary Martyrs Day.

The Libyan Air Force said that at least 50 ISIS fighters were killed in the airstrikes, which were carried out by Egypt and Libya.

Magdalene Kahiu is a Kenyan journalist with passion in Church communication. She holds a Degree in Social Communications from the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA). Currently, she works as a journalist for ACI Africa.