The interim constitution states that Islam is the state religion and sharia is the principal source of legislation. It accords non‑Muslims the freedom to practice their religion. The government appointed by the Libyan House of Representatives (HoR) was based in the eastern city of Bayda, while competing self‑proclaimed authorities operated from Tripoli. While the constitution bans discrimination based on religion, the government did not prevent violent extremist groups from taking advantage of the country’s security vacuum to attack religious minorities, nor did it investigate crimes against religious minorities or religious sites. The government did not control large areas of the country, including the cities of Darnah and Sirte, where there were numerous reports of violent groups restricting religious practices, enforcing compliance with sharia according to their interpretation, and targeting those viewed as violating their standards.
In February a video on social media depicted the beheading of 21 Christians, 20 of them Egyptian Copts and the other a Ghanaian. Da’esh (the Islamic State in Iraq and Levant) claimed responsibility for the killings. The group also claimed responsibility for the killing of 28 Ethiopian and Eritrean Christians in April, and a Sudanese Christian in October. Da’esh reportedly killed imams in Sirte and Ajdabiya for failing to swear allegiance to the organization. Da’esh also vandalized and destroyed Sufi religious sites on several occasions. The UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) reported increased hostility towards Shia Muslims and Shia Islam since 2012 at various levels of Libyan society.
Amid escalating violence, the U.S. embassy and most diplomatic missions evacuated Tripoli in July 2014. While the U.S. embassy was not based in Libya, the U.S. government continued to raise the issue of targeting religious groups in conversations with the government and other Libyan interlocutors.