24 April, 2014 AsiaNews.it Twitter AsiaNews.it Facebook            

Help AsiaNews | About us | P.I.M.E. | | RssNewsletter





mediazioni e arbitrati, risoluzione alternativa delle controversie e servizi di mediazione e arbitrato
e-mail this to a friend printable version


» 02/06/2010 10:50
SAUDI ARABIA - INDIA
Brian O'Connor: discrimination and religious intolerance the evils of Saudi Arabia
by Nirmala Carvalho
A Christian of Indian origin, O'Connor spent seven months in the prisons of the Kingdom on the false accusations of proselytism. He stresses that the "unlimited powers" of the religious police perpetrate crimes and violence. He prays every day for the country, the rulers and administrators.

New Delhi (AsiaNews) - In Saudi society, "discrimination and intolerance" are an "evident" matter of fact, exacerbated by the "unlimited powers" enjoyed by the muttawa - the kingdom's religious police - who perpetrate crimes, violence and promote a system of widespread corruption. This is the statement of Brian Savio O'Connor, a Christian of Indian origin, for 7 months and 7 days a prisoner, chained and tortured in a Saudi jail on charges of proselytizing.

For his release AsiaNews had launched an international campaign. We asked the 41-year Christian in Karnataka – who has launched a centre for orphaned children, open to any religious faith - to comment on the results of an investigation into the political and social situation in Saudi Arabia, carried out with a poll conducted in November 2009 by Pechter Middle East Polls, a private polling institute based in Princeton (United States).  

Below the AsiaNews interview with Brian O'Connor (pictured with family):

 

 Mr O'Connor, where does the problem with corruption begin?

Unless the Saudi kingdom, permit Religious Freedom and respect the Spirit of Reciprocity, corruption will continue to plague the Saudi Kingdom and have disastrous social consequences.  The ‘muttawas’ have  unquestionable powers and yield their powers to harras people of other faiths,  evidence is planted, prayers in the privacy of the homes are cause for arrests and jail terms,  While these are also the ways  and avenues for corruption of these ‘police.  

What was your experience of corruption in jail?

[Prison] is a haven for corruption, any favours could be ‘bought for a price’ from the jailors, and for the non- muslims, it was even worse, they would be attempts by the jail authorities to subtly get us to renounce my faith and embrace Islam, and this was the case with most who were thrown into jail on fabricated(faith based) cases.  The corruption had even stooped to a level that even a change of name to a Mohammedan one sufficed to some fringe benefits inside the jail. It is significant that arbitrary powers of the Muttawas, have spurred the rise of religious fundamentalism which has implications for social development, for social justice and human rights.

Can you describe to readers your days in the Saudi Kingdom?

In Saudi society, discrimination and in tolerance toward non-Muslims is evident and it is worrisome, that all this lacks transparency, to there can be cases of indiscriminate harassment of non- Muslims leading to human rights abuses.  In my humble opinion, it is the rigidity of the Saudi society, and denial of religious freedom that, engenders fundamentalisms.  However, from recent account, in Riyadh (where I lived), the muttawahs have lessened their vigilance and harassment/intimidation of private worship and this is encouraging. 

What according to you can help Saudi emerge from this corruption and extremism?

It is known that in the Saudi Kingdom Freedom of religion is legally not recognized and this opens avenues for legal sanction for corruption.  In order to weed out the source of corruption, it is urgent that by Law, the Saudi authorities ensure   protection for private worship for all religious groups, curb harassment of religious groups, and promote tolerance toward all religions.

 What about Muslims, are things easy for them?

For our Muslims brothers and sisters, the issue of Religion does not arise; however, such strict and rigid laws on Religious Freedom are bound to impact society as well- even for our Muslim brethren.  From my experience, on the one hand the clerics attempt to impose a dogmatic world view, and dogmatic ways of interpreting truth, religious texts and the world with intent to control the individual and/or society as a whole. While on the other, they discourage those who challenge their world vision and staunchly oppose any democratic values and, pluralism.

How has life been for you after your jail term in Saudi?

I am married, my wife Liza and I have two children. Here in Hubli, Karnataka, we have stated a “Disciple Training Centre’, transmitting faith to pastors and the lay people. Everyday I pray for the Saudi Kingdom, for the rulers and administrators that Freedom of Religious may be permitted for the good of the Saudi kingdom and for its people.

 

 


e-mail this to a friend printable version

See also
06/03/2005 INDIA - SAUDI ARABIA
The infamous Muttawa tortures Christians, says Brian O'Connor
by Nirmala Carvalho
09/24/2004 SAUDI ARABIA
New false accusations brought in court against O'Connor, an Indian-born Christian
by Lorenzo Fazzini
11/02/2004 SAUDI ARABIA
Indian Christian unconditionally deported from Saudi Arabia
01/03/2013 INDIA - SAUDI ARABIA
Indian Christian calls on Saudi Arabia to recognise migrants' religious rights
by Nirmala Carvalho
06/08/2005 SAUDI ARABIA
Saudi Arabia: 7 of jailed Christians released

Editor's choices
ITALY - ASIA
Easter, victory over death and impotence
by Bernardo Cervellera
SYRIA
I will miss you Fr Frans, you inspired us all, says Syrian Jesuit
by Tony Homsy*A young priest from the Society of Jesus remembers the life and work of Fr Frans van der Lugt, who was killed in Homs after he refused to abandon residents beleaguered by hunger and war. "He gave and continues to give everything for the Church, Syria, and peace. His story and qualities made him an exceptional missionary and witness to the Gospel." Reprinted courtesy of 'The Jesuit Post'.
FRANCE - IRAQ
Chaldean Patriarch on the uncertain future of eastern Christians, a bridge between the West and Islam
by Mar Louis Raphael I SakoThe wars in Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan have made things worse for their peoples, especially minorities. As Western policies have been a failure, fundamentalism has grown with the Arab Spring losing out to extremism. Muslim authorities have a role in protecting rights and religious freedom. The presence of Christians in the Middle East is crucial for Muslims.

Dossier
by Giulio Aleni / (a cura di) Gianni Criveller
pp. 176
by Lazzarotto Angelo S.
pp. 528
by Bernardo Cervellera
pp. 240
Copyright © 2003 AsiaNews C.F. 00889190153 All rights reserved. Content on this site is made available for personal, non-commercial use only. You may not reproduce, republish, sell or otherwise distribute the content or any modified or altered versions of it without the express written permission of the editor. Photos on AsiaNews.it are largely taken from the internet and thus considered to be in the public domain. Anyone contrary to their publication need only contact the editorial office which will immediately proceed to remove the photos.