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Hellenes Abroad / Greece

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Greeks in Libya are living their own “Resurrection”. Historic church of St. George plundered in Tripoli.

The historic Church of St. George in the old city of Tripoli, dating back in 1647, and being the oldest Orthodox church in North Africa was recently ravaged by unknown perpetrators. The news was made known to Metropolitan Theophylaktos of Tripoli, who has been in Greece since late June, by the President of the Community, Demetris Anastasiou.

“My heart aches for what is happening in Libya, a beautiful country was destroyed, but most of all for its people, known for their hospitality”, states Metropolitan Theophylaktos of Tripoli to ANAMPA, who settled in Libya in 1991. “I was particularly saddened by what Mr. Anastasiou told me. According to him, nothing was left intact. They stole the reliquary of our Patron Saint, which I personally brought from Mt. Athos, old evangelical texts, chalices, hexapteryga, incense burners, one of which donated by the Ecumenical Patriarch, Bartholomew. The individuals who stole the items contacted the Community’s President asking for money in order to return them. The incident has been reported to the police, but considering the circumstances, who would deal with us”, he wondered.

The Metropolitan of Tripoli, who due to the criticality of the situation came to Greece, is looking forward to returning to his church.

“The situation in Libya remains unsettled and nobody knows how everything will end. On what is to blame, those responsible can judge. However, when things get back to normal I will be the first to return, hoping to see better days”.

We celebrate our own “Resurrection”

“After 42 years of slavery, the time has come to celebrate our own “Resurrection”. When you contacted us with the previous regime in power, we could not speak openly. Now we talk freely”, states the 67 year old President of the Greek Community of Tripoli, Demetris Anastasiou, in a telephone conversation with ANAMPA.

And continues stating “We were always subject to control, in a rigorous police regime. Especially those with foreign citizenship, we would not dare speak, because we would never witness the sun again. As was the case with many. For example a friend of mine, a doctor from Bulgaria, was arrested by the authorities on the beginning of the events, because he had taken pictures and published them. He was confined, while his pregnant spouse could not come into contact with him. They removed their passports, but fortunately, they managed to flee through Tunisia”.

In Tripoli, Libya, out of approximately 20 families of Greeks, there are approximately 12 people, with whom, Mr. Anastasiou, a third generation Greek, is in regular contact.

“Over the past five days we are confined in our homes. We haven’t had electricity for three days, water supply stoppages, and experienced difficulties in telephone communication.

Fortunately, today we have access to the internet, after six months. We can hear the battles raging around us and pray for them to end soon and live in a liberal regime”.

Mr. Anastasiou is not considering abandoning Libya, the land where his grandfather, since 1895, and father lived in.

“I did not leave during the difficult years we lived through, why should I leave now? We must protect the buildings of our Community, our church, St. Georgios, which as you have been informed has been ransacked by unknown perpetrators”, states Mr. Anastasiou. “On Gaddafi’s term, however, our church was operating freely and procession of the Epitaph was allowed”.

Communication with Greeks living in Benghazi is not possible.

There, according to information, there are three to four remaining Greeks, along with the Community’s President there, Mandalios Kanakis.

Source: ANAMPA

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Hellenes Abroad / Greece

Voices & visions Melbourne, 09.02.2012