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» 06/09/2004
SAUDI ARABIA
Persecution, prison and torture for Christians (profile)

21,6 million people live in Saudi Arabia. 93.7% of them are Muslim and only 3.7% are Christians. Almost all the Christians are foreign people. Catholics are just 900.000.

There is no religious freedom at all in the country. Any kind of public activity, such as possessing a Bible, wearing a crucifix or pray, is strictly forbidden. In too many cases Christians are persecuted, arrested and tortured. In April 2001 two people from the Philippines were arrested for worshipping Christ in their own house. They had to spend one month in jail after being brutally whipped. In May 2001, 11 Christians were arrested for praying together in a private house. In summer 2001, 13 Christians were arrested in Jedda, tortured ad whipped in the presence of the other prisoners. At the present moment, there are no priests in Saudi Arabia. The last one, an American priest, was forced to leave the country in 1985.       

Christians constitute the biggest non-Muslim group in Saudi Arabia. They are also well organised in prayer groups and Bible studies groups, especially in the main cities such as Riyadh, Jiddah, Al Jubayl and Damman. This is why they have become the favourite target of Saudi authorities. Last October two Christians from Egypt were arrested for praying in their own house. Prince Sultan Abdul Aziz Al-Saud made some pressure on the authorities and obtained their release. Participation to Christian meetings is quite dangerous. Christians have to be extremely careful, especially when they communicate the dates and places of the meetings. Furthermore, possession of non-Muslim material, such as rosaries, crosses, Bibles, etc., leads to the arrest  by the Muttawa'in, the Saudi religious police. Prohibition of professing any other religion than Islam is grounded on the belief that Saudi Arabia is holy ground. As a matter of fact, the holiness of the two cities of Mecca and Medina is extended to the rest of the country. Accusing people of preaching Christ is a common way to eliminate political dissidents.

Saudi Arabia is ruled by a hereditary monarchy which is grounded on the fundamentalist principles of Wahabi Islam. The government of the country is built on the principles of shari'ah. The Islamic law establishes the nature of the State, its goals and responsibilities, as well as its relationship with the people. Residents who are not Muslim are under the rule of the shari'ah as everybody else.

 

 


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See also
06/09/2004 SAUDI ARABIA – Italy
Solidarity for poor O'Connor, the Christian tortured by the Saudi police
by Lorenzo Fazzini
08/28/2004 SAUDI ARABIA
Reformists' trial postponed because of courtroom protest
07/21/2006 USA - SAUDI ARABIA
US trusts Riyad's new promise to ensure religious freedom
12/17/2004 saudi arabia
Saudi Christian convert arrested and jailed
10/19/2012 SAUDI ARABIA
Saudi Arabia: 35 women on the Shoura Council
SAUDI ARABIA
Christians arrested and persecuted in Saudi Arabia
SAUDI ARABIA - INDIA
Brian O'Connor: "My story, a Christian in a Saudi jail"
SAUDI ARABIA
The 'Save O'Connor' campaign, an example of Internet solidarity
INDIA - SAUDI ARABIA
India's Christians elated by O'Connor's release
SAUDI ARABIA
Indian Christian unconditionally deported from Saudi Arabia
SAUDI ARABIA - INDIA
Ten months in jail and 300 lashes for Christian prisoner O'Connor
SAUDI ARABIA
New false accusations brought in court against O'Connor, an Indian-born Christian
SAUDI ARABIA - INDIA
O'Connor, a Christian from India, may soon be free
SAUDI ARABIA
Human Rights group asks Powell to raise O'Connor case in Saudi Arabia
saudi arabia
Free the Christian O'Connor to Defeat Fundamentalism
INDIA - SAUDI ARABIA
No Saudi reply to Bishops' information request on O'Connor case
SAUDI ARABIA – Italy
Solidarity for poor O'Connor, the Christian tortured by the Saudi police
SAUDI ARABIA – ITALY – USA
Free detained Christian and reformist Muslims
INDIA – SAUDI ARABIA
Catholic leader asks Saudi King to release a Christian prisoner

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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