» 02/22/2010, 00.00
PHILIPPINES - SAUDI ARABIA
Catholic migrant in Saudi Arabia: Three years without a day of rest and mass
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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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.
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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.
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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.
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Bishop of Balanga: Save 90 Filipino migrants on death row
Msgr. Santos, President of the Commission for the care of migrants: "The time has come ease the suffering of these people. The government cannot abandon them. " At least 3,800 Filipino workers are imprisoned abroad, 90 of them on death row, 41 in Malaysia and 27 in Saudi Arabia. Two days ago Joseph Urbiztondo, detained for 25 years in Kuwait, was able to pay the "blood money" and save his life.
Defeated on ice, but 'first' in history, joint Korean hockey team players hug
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