Riyadh (AsiaNews/Agencies) Saudi religious police last Tuesday destroyed a clandestine makeshift Hindu temple in an old district of Riyadh and deported three worshippers found there, Arabic daily al-Hayat reported.
Agents from the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, better known as the Muttawah, stumbled across a room converted into a temple while raiding a number of flats suspected of being used to manufacture alcohol and distribute pornographic videos.
A caretaker who was found in the worshipping area ignored the religious police orders to stop performing his religious rituals and was deported along with two other men who arrived on the scene to worship. Their nationality was unknown
Saudi Arabia is host to 8.8 million foreigners, mostly workers, out of a population of 23 million. The largest communities are from Bangladesh, India and Pakistan (1 to 1.5 million).
All forms of non-Muslim worship are banned in the country and Wahhabism, one of the most fundamentalist forms of Islam, prevails.
Religious freedom does not exist although authorities have started tolerating non Muslim religious practices when conducted in the privacy of the home.
None the less, the Muttawah continues arresting non Muslims even when they worship in private at home.
The US Commission on International Religious Freedom last month urged the US government to impose sanctions on Saudi Arabia for its systematic violations of fundamental religious rights.
Last year the US State Department for the first time named the Saudi Kingdom one of the "countries of particular concern" in its annual report on religious freedom. (LF)