» 06/09/2004, 00.00
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.
09/06/2004 SAUDI ARABIA Italy
Solidarity for poor O'Connor, the Christian tortured by the Saudi police
Interview to M.P. Mario Scajola, president of the Italian division of the World Muslim League (Rome)
28/08/2004 SAUDI ARABIA
Reformists' trial postponed because of courtroom protest
Sociological research indicates that Saudis want democracy and freedom.
21/07/2006 USA - SAUDI ARABIA
US trusts Riyad's new promise to ensure religious freedom
The US State Department has decided to spare Saudi Arabia from sanctions usually imposed on countries featuring in the "black list" of religious freedom. The Crown has assured respect for religious minorities and reform of text books. But the same promises were already made and broken in the past.
17/12/2004 saudi arabia
Saudi Christian convert arrested and jailed
19/10/2012 SAUDI ARABIA
Saudi Arabia: 35 women on the Shoura Council
The decision is not official yet, but has been confirmed by sources within the Council and by many Saudi newspapers. The candidates must be more than 30 years of age and have a high level of education.
MYANMAR - VATICAN
“Hectic hours” before pope's arrival in Yangon, Catholics to help pilgrims
Some 200,000 people are expected at the solemn Mass at Kyaikkasan Grounds, including Buddhist and Muslim leaders. Some 6,000 kids will take part in the Mass for young people the next day. Filipinos, Australians and Thais are also expected for Pope Francis’ apostolic journey. From our correspondent.
The genocide of Yemen:First bombs, now hunger, thirst and cholera
The coalition led by Riyadh blocks the arrival of fuel needed to run the wells. Over a million people without water in Taiz, Saada, Hodeida, Sana'a and Al Bayda. According to UNICEF, 1.7 million children suffer from acute malnutrition”; 150,000 children are likely to die in the coming weeks. The silence and neglect of the international community. The threat of hitting crude-cargo ships. Yesterday, Saudi Arabia allowed the reopening of Sana'a airport and Hudayda port, but only for humanitarian aid. An insufficient measure.
20/11/2017 LEBANON - FRANCE
AsiaNews IS ALSO A MONTHLY!
AsiaNews monthly magazine (in Italian) is free.