28 August 2016
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    » 02/22/2010, 00.00

    PHILIPPINES - SAUDI ARABIA

    Catholic migrant in Saudi Arabia: Three years without a day of rest and mass

    Santosh Digal

    In the Islamic country there is no freedom of religion. In order to keep her faith alive the woman took refuge in her room to pray. Filipino bishops call on the faithful to pray and reflect on the plight of workers abroad.

    Manila (AsiaNews) - "During my three years working in Saudi Arabia I was never allowed to leave the house or have a day off to go to mass”. This is the story of Rebeka Perlas, a 35 year old from the Philippines, who until last week was employed as a maid in a Muslim family in Riyadh to maintain her two sons. "The only thing I could do – she adds – was get up every morning at 3 and recite the rosary on my knees in my room, before beginning my days work."

    The woman is one of more than 10 million Filipino workers forced to emigrate abroad to support their families. Of these, over 200 thousand are residents in Saudi Arabia, where there is no freedom of religion and all religions other than Islam are banned by the Wahhabi kingdom.

    In Saudi Arabia it is forbidden to build churches and other places of worship, carry religious symbols, or hang images in homes. The religious police (Muttawa) has tight controls to ensure these rules. The government rarely allows the celebrations of Mass in private and in some embassies. However the ease of finding employment continues to attract migrants who support the terrible working conditions, the risk of forced conversions and sexual abuse. There are a total of 8 million foreigners living and working in the kingdom. According to the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) from 2007 to 2008, emigration to the Middle East has seen an increase of 29.5%.

    Perlas Rebeka says: "My employer was hard on me, but I was never allowed to go to church, despite my repeated requests." The woman says that in these three years it was difficult to not to receive the sacraments, but she had no choice. "I love Jesus and the Virgin Mary and prayed every day during this difficult period. Only daily prayer and faith in God allowed me to survive in the Muslim world. "

    The Philippine Church yesterday celebrated the 24th National Day of migrants entitled "Economy and Sustainable Development: the keys to effective reunification of immigrant families."

    On this occasion the bishops of the dioceses have invited the faithful to pray and reflect on the plight of workers abroad and their families. "On this day we remember the sacrifice and the difficulties of the millions of migrants abroad - said Fr Gil A. Alingasan of the Archdiocese of Manila - and urge them to stay away from the temptations of material gain that underlie this phenomenon, pointing out their potential in spreading the Gospel. " Through this celebration, the Church has asked the government for more economic measures to increase jobs in the country and stop the Diaspora of the Filipino people.

     

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    See also

    07/10/2010 PHILIPPINES - SAUDI ARABIA
    Saudi Arabia: conditional release for 12 Filipinos accused of proselytizing
    The Catholic migrants are currently in the custody of their employers at the disposition of authorities. Saudi religious police (Muttawa) arrested them last October 1 for taking part in a Mass celebrated by a French priest. 150 other foreign Catholics were with them, whose fate remains unknown.

    31/12/2009 PHILIPPINES - ISLAM
    Filipino migrant in Saudi Arabia: exploited and mocked for her faith
    A Filipino domestic worker describes as "a prison" her experience in Saudi Arabia. For seven months she was not allowed to leave or have a bed to sleep on. Because of her Christian faith her salary was reduced. Forced to fast during Ramadan.

    05/06/2010 PHILIPPINES - SAUDI ARABIA
    Filipino nurses in Riyadh against the centre of assistance to migrants: they have abandoned us
    Head of Overseas Workers Employment Assistance Administration in Riyadh under accusation. Instead of helping abused nurses he demands they return to work. The 30 women were repatriated in March and worked for Annasbah, a Riyadh company known for ongoing abuses against employees. Now fears for the fate of 30 other companions still blocked in the Saudi capital.

    06/08/2016 14:53:00 PHILIPPINES – SAUDI ARABIA
    Manila to rescue 20,000 Filipino migrant workers going hungry in Saudi Arabia

    The government plans to bring humanitarian and legal assistance, and find a way to repatriate its citizens. Due to the decline in oil prices, migrant workers have not been paid for months, forced to beg and sift through garbage to survive.



    30/12/2015 PHILIPPINES – SAUDI ARABIA
    Filipino worker beheaded in Saudi Arabia for failing to pay "blood money"
    Joselito Lidasan Zapanta, a 35-year-old tile-setter, was convicted in 2010 for killing his landlord, which he claimed to have done in self-defence. For his release, the victim’s family demanded a million dollars. For Mgr Santos, the case shows the “travails and perils” faced by Filipino workers abroad.



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