February 27, 2013
Metropolitan Theophylaktos of Tripoli, Libya has been threatened by fanatical Muslims not to return to the historic Greek Orthodox Church of Saint George in Tripoli, otherwise he would be beheaded and the Christians would be burnt alive.
"If we find you again in here, we will burn you all alive, and you, priest, we will take your head," was the ultimatum placed by these fanatical Muslims who invaded the church.
"Things are very difficult for Orthodox Christians in Tripoli. With pain in my soul I am thinking of closing the historic church and to open it again on Pascha," said the Metropolitan in an exclusive phone interview with Ierovima.gr.
He went on to say: "Last time there was not even one Christian in the church, because they are scared. You know why? About a month ago, a group of about ten Salafist Muslims, who are ultra-conservative Sunni, stormed into the Church of Saint George during the time of the Divine Liturgy and yelled that we needed to empty the church right now otherwise they would burn everyone alive. When I asked them to leave the sacred place, they angrily answered that they would kill me; that they would behead me. I am not afraid of them, but since then not even one believer will come to our church. During better times, the congregation would reach 150 faithful, but today not even one."
The Metropolitan went on to express his sadness that the Greek press has not payed any attention to the Metropolis of Tripoli, ever since the Gaddafi uprising in 2011.
"All Orthodox Christians, and of course the Greek community, face problems because there is no longer security. Two months ago the Greek cemetery was anonymously desecrated, scattering the bones of the dead! Our church in Tripoli, which has existed since 1647, is in danger of being raised in flames at any moment, and I am forced to circulate around in civilian clothing so that I will not be identified by Muslim gangs. Write these things, so the people know we are being lost. We need all forms of support."
It should be noted that the Cathedral of Saint George the Tropaioforos in Tripoli, which has been plundered several times, is the only functioning Orthodox church in the great country of Libya, and serves the spiritual and liturgical needs of the Greeks and other Orthodox brethren such as Russians, Bulgarians, Serbs, Ukrainians, etc.
For those wishing to help financially:
THE HOLY METROPOLIS OF TRIPOLI IN LIBYA
AGRICULTURAL BANK OF GREECE
ΤΗΝ ΙΕΡΑ ΜΗΤΡΟΠΟΛΗ ΤΡΙΠΟΛΕΩΣ ΛΙΒΥΗΣ
ΑΓΡΟΤΙΚΗ ΤΡΑΠΕΖΑ ΕΛΛΑΔΟΣ
Translated by John Sanidopoulos