Christian Missionaries Arrested in Libya, Face Potential Death Penalty

The Guardian (UK) reports (thanks to Prof. Howard Friedman (Religion Clause) for the pointer):

Four foreigners have been arrested in Libya on suspicion of being missionaries and distributing Christian literature, a charge that could carry the death penalty….

Libya retains a law from the Muammar Gaddafi era that makes proselytising a criminal offence potentially punishable by death. The arrests underlined the sometimes difficult relationship between churches and the new authorities.

“Proselytising is forbidden in Libya. We are a 100% Muslim country and this kind of action affects our national security,” security official Hussein Bin Hmeid told Reuters….

Benghazi lawyer and human rights activist Bilal Bettamer said Libya was a wholly Muslim country and Christians should not be trying to spread their faith. “It is disrespectful. If we had Christianity we could have dialogue, but you can’t just spread Christianity,” he said. “The maximum penalty is the death penalty. It’s a dangerous thing to do.” …

On Sunday, Libya’s de facto head of state, speaker of congress Mohammed Magariaf, pledged that Libya would incorporate sharia law into its future constitution, during a speech in Benghazi to mark the second anniversary of the 2011 revolution.