By BosNewsLife Africa and BosNewsLife Asia Services
TRIPOLI/JAKARTA (BosNewsLife)– Christians in two heavily Islamic nations were struggling Thursday, March 21, as believers in Libya faced rebuilding their torched church while half-a-world away in Indonesia, Christians were ordered to dismantle their place of worship.
The St Mark’s Church in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi was burned down March 14 after protests against the death of Egyptian Christian Ezzat Atallah in a Libyan prison, earlier that week.
Prisoner Atallah, who suffered from diabetes and heart ailments, likely died of natural causes, Egypt’s Foreign Ministry said.
He was among five Evangelical Christian Egyptians detained in Libya for evangelism, or “proselytizing”, in the predominantly Muslim nation.
Earlier this month, Egypt’s Foreign Ministry intervened to win release from Libya of 55 Egyptians who were charged with proselytizing. Thirty-five of them were deported for illegally entering the country, while 20 were cleared to stay in Libya, news reports said.
The attacked church was the place of worship attended by the Egyptian Christians, rights activists said.
It was previously targeted by Islamic gunmen on February 28, who also assaulted two priests, according to news reports and Christians.
Also, four foreigners under investigation for alleged espionage and proselytizing remain in a Libyan prison. They are a Swedish-American, a South Korean, a South African and an Egyptian, The Associated Press reported.
Christians also faced tensions around a congregation in Indonesia, Thursday, March 21, where believers have been ordered to dismantle their church building.
In comments monitored by BosNewsLife, members of the HKBP Setu Church in the city of Bekasi said they would not destroy their building.
Authorities said they closed the building because the church had no permit to operate.
HKBP Setu pastor Leonard Nababan said the church “has been trying to obtain a permit since 2011” and that it has complied with all the requirements.
His church has been sealed off since March 7 and the Bekasi public order agency reportedly said it would dismantle the church “if the congregation does not”.
As in Libya and several other Islamic nations, devoted Christians in Indonesia have complained of increased harassment, often by authorities acting on complaints from Islamic mobs and militants.
Officials often point out that they uphold the laws of the land and protect Islamic values.
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