08/03/2007, 00.00
SAUDI ARABIA
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Egyptian Christian medic “hostage” of Saudi kingdom

The man’s case has been highlighted by International Christian Concern: the surgeon has been trying to return home for two years after the Muttawa accused him of being a missionary and confiscated his passport. The authorities continue to delude him with false promises while the man remains jobless.

Riyadh (AsiaNews) – A Christian doctor of Egyptian origin is being held “hostage” by Saudi Arabia; after sacking him because of his faith, the religious police, the Muttawa, confiscated his passport and the authorities persist in denying him the possibility of leaving the country and returning to Egypt. His case was denounced by the human rights organization International Christian Concern (ICC).

Dr Mamdooh Fahmy started to work as a surgeon at the Albyaan Menfhoh Medical Center in Riyadh in 2004. He was immediately targeted by a group of his Muslim colleagues, who repeatedly asked him to embrace Islam, an invitation the doctor always refused, not hiding his Christian faith. In a letter to the ICC, Fahmy himself told his story as follows: “On 12 April 2005, I had a surprise visit from three Saudi officials at work. Two were in civilian clothes and one was a police officer. They informed me that they were from the Muttawa. They proceeded to insult me publicly before the staff and patients of the medial center. They confiscated my wallet, cell phone and keys. They handcuffed me, shackled my legs and dragged me to a waiting car, then proceeded to my residence. While the police officer and I remained in the vehicle, the two in civilian clothing raided my house, confiscating all written and published materials (books, notes etc). I was then taken to the police station where I was formally accused of being a Christian missionary and of consuming alcoholic beverages after work. I was placed in solitary confinement for five days. After my confinement they began the interrogation process. Each time I was questioned, I was cursed and insulted. The interrogator referred to me as an ‘infidel’.”

Immediately after his release, Fahmy tried to get his passport back from his employer, who informed him that the document was in the hands of the police. This was only the first in a series of attempts by the surgeon to go back home. In the most recent episode, the Saudi authorities, following pressure from Cairo, told the doctor that all he had to do was to fill in a form to be repatriated. The man did so, but his request was nonetheless rejected and the officials laughed in his face for trying to leave.

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