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» 04/15/2009
SAUDI ARABIA – ISLAM
Blogger convert to Christianity released from Saudi prison
Arrested for openly choosing Jesus, Saudi man is released after some months. He still cannot leave the country or appear in media, but many are surprised by the leniency. Under Sharia apostasy is punished by death.

Riyadh (AsiaNews/MEC) – Hamoud Saleh Al-Amri, a 28 year-old Saudi national imprisoned in January for writing in his blog about his decision to convert to Christianity, was released by Saudi authorities at the end of March 2009 instead of being put death as an apostate as prescribed by Sharia. However, he has been banned from travelling outside Saudi Arabia or appearing in media, Middle East Concern, a Christian organisation specialising in Mideast affairs, reported.

According to Hamoud himself, who is back writing on his Christ for Saudi blog, his release is due to pressure brought on Saudi authorities by the Cairo-based Arab Network for Human Rights Information, one of several rights groups that have campaigned for his release.

Hamoud was arrested on 13 January 2009 and detained at the Eleisha political prison in Riyadh. He had written in his blog of his decision to leave Islam to follow Jesus, and had also been critical of his country’s judicial system, highlighting widespread corruption and human rights abuses.

Hamoud had been detained on other occasions, for nine months in 2004 and for one month in 2008.

Following his arrest in January, the Saudi authorities blocked access to his blog inside Saudi Arabia. Google then locked the blog, for what they claimed was “a technical violation” of their terms of service, before restoring it on 5 February 2009 following public pressure.

The relative leniency of the Saudi police and regime in this case has surprised some analysts, given Hamoud's explicit claim to have left Islam, which amounts to apostasy punishable by death, and his outspoken criticism of the regime, something which is not normally tolerated.

In the last year King Abdullah has taken some tentative step toward modernising the country, opening it up to a dialogue with other religions, reforming the religious police and giving women a role in government.


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See also
08/09/2005 SAUDI ARABIA
King Abdullah pardons detainees . . . Muslim ones that is
08/02/2005 SAUDI ARABIA
King Fahd laid to rest amidst tight security and public indifference
12/18/2007 SAUDI ARABIA
King Abdullah pardons ‘Qatif girl’ but the matter of justice reform remains
11/02/2004 SAUDI ARABIA
Indian Christian unconditionally deported from Saudi Arabia
11/13/2012 SAUDI ARABIA
Lawyer wants government help to repatriate Christian convert who fled abroad

Editor's choices
EGYPT - ISLAM
What Tayeb and Sisi said is big step towards a revolution in Islam
by Samir Khalil SamirThe grand imam of Al-Azhar slammed literalist interpretations of the Qur'an and the Sunnah, as fundamentalists and Islamic terrorists do. He supports the urgent need for Islam's reform, especially in terms of teaching lay people and clerics. He also calls for an end to mutual excommunication (takfir) between Sunnis and Shias. Egyptian President al-Sisi chose to fight the Islamic state group after it beheaded 21 Coptic Christians, whom he called "Egyptian citizens" with full rights.
SAUDI ARABIA - ISLAM
For head of Al-Azhar, religious education reform is needed to stop Islamic extremismFor Ahmed al-Tayeb, it is urgent to come up with new educational programmes to avoid "corrupt interpretations" of the Qur'an and Sunnah. Islamic terrorism undermines the unity of the Muslim world. He blames Mideast tensions on a "new global colonialism allied to world Zionism". a speech by the Saudi king is read at the conference.
HONG KONG - CHINA - VATICAN
It looks like someone is trying to shout us down
by Card. Joseph Zen Ze-kiunThe widespread optimism concerning the dialogue between the Holy See and China is largely groundless. Some Chinese bishops unable to speak freely are asked "leading" questions. The key issues remain unresolved, namely episcopal appointments and the fate of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association. Benedict XVI's Letter to Chinese Catholics, also cited by Pope Francis, provides guidelines. No agreement is better than a bad agreement. What happened to Msgr. Cosma Shi Enxiang and Msgr. James Su Zhimin? Hong Kong's bishop emeritus, champion of religious freedom in China, delivers a vibrant reflection.

Dossier

by Giulio Aleni / (a cura di) Gianni Criveller
pp. 176
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