06/22/2005, 00.00
SAUDI ARABIA
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Riyadh: an Indian missionary accused of proselytism is imprisoned

Riyadh (AsiaNews) – Two Christian Pentecostal Indians accused of proselytism continue to rot in Saudi prisons. They were arrested together with other Christians on 28 May. The other six were released because the police acknowledged they had been practicing their faith in private in their homes.

Christians in the Saudi Kingdom are increasingly worried and fear the worst about the fate of the other two, who are both Indians from Kerala. AsiaNews has discovered the identity of one of them: George Kutty, who in the past was police sub-inspector in his country. George Kutty, who belongs to the Indian Pentecostal Mission, had links with several Pentecostal missionaries worldwide. Kutty kept all information and contact details on his portable computer.

Recently, his firm transferred him to Tabuk (in the north-west of the country). On his way there, he was stopped for a check by traffic police controlling the highway, and they discovered his computer. Confiscating it, they went through all its contents and discovered all the information about his mission and that of his group. Now George Kutty stands charged with preaching Christianity in Saudi Arabia with the help of international missionary organizations.

Christians working in Saudi Arabia point out that Kutty was accused only on the grounds of information found in his computer, and not for explicitly missionary actions or gestures (or proselytism). His arrest and the information in police possession could lead to a long series of arrests of Christians in the Saudi kingdom.

The Saudi government prohibits the practice of any religion other than the fundamentalist wahabita Islam doctrine. Missionary work is forbidden as is any public manifestation (having Bibles, wearing a cross, a rosary, praying in public). The religious police, the notorious Muttawa, are well-known for their ruthlessness and use of violent torture. In recent years, thanks to international pressure, the Saudi kingdom has come to allow the practice of other religions but only in private. However, the Muttawa continues to arrest, imprison and torture people who practice other faiths even in private.

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