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    » 02/20/2013, 00.00

    SAUDI ARABIA - ETHIOPIA

    Saudi Arabia: 53 Ethiopian Christians arrested for praying in a private home



    46 are women, and most likely face deportation. The authorities have accused them of converting Muslims to Christianity. There is no religious freedom in the country: the monarchy allows private worship of other faiths, but the religious police carry out indiscriminate arrests.

    Damman (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Saudi Arabia has arrested 53 Ethiopian Christians - 46 women and six men - for holding a prayer meeting in a private home. Police officials have sealed the house and taken the faithful away, accusing the three religious leaders present of attempting to convert Muslims to Christianity. The incident occurred at Dammam, the capital of the Eastern Province of the Kingdom, and dates to February 8, but local sources, linked to the World Evangelical Alliance's Religious Liberty Commission (WEA-Rlc) recently reported the news.

    According to the WEA-RLC, Saudi authorities should release two of the Christians who hold residency permits. In all likelihood, all the others will be deported.

    Saudi Arabia does not recognize, or protect, any religious expression other than Islam. The religious police (muttawa) carries out controls to eliminate the presence of Bibles, rosaries, Crosses  and Christian assemblies. And even if the royal family allows religious practices other than Islam, at least in private, muttawa agents tend not to differentiate.

    This is not the first episode of religious persecution against the Ethiopian community. In December 2011, the Saudi authorities arrested 35 Ethiopian Christians, 29 of them women, charging them with "illegal socialization." In this case, the faithful were detained in the middle of a prayer meeting in a private home in Jeddah. According to Human Rights Watch (HRW), the imprisoned women were subjected to arbitrary "medical inspections".

    The city of Dammam, where the accident occurred on February 8, is a major industrial center and port, rich in oil and natural gas.

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    See also

    05/02/2011 ETHIOPIA-ISLAM
    Islamic radicals attack Christians in Ethiopia and force them to convert
    In the city of Besheno in the south of the country, the authorities prevent the construction of a place of prayer and a cemetery. Three evangelical leaders forced to leave the area. Another is in hospital after being attacked.

    12/03/2011 ETHIOPIA
    Ethiopia: Muslim radicals burn twelve Protestant churches. One dead, dozens injured
    The riots erupted after the charge, probably false, of desecration of the Koran. The police fail to prevent the destruction of places of worship. The government obliged to send the army. Kwarej radical group responsible, which wants to create an Islamic state in the area, of Muslim majority.

    05/11/2014 SAUDIA ARABIA
    More than 90 "extremists" tweets posted per minute in Saudi Arabia
    The figure emerges from a statistic published by the Ministry for Islamic Affairs. Over 500 accounts that promoted extremist organizations closed. A a religious television network also shut down.

    09/06/2012 SAUDI ARABIA
    Jeddah: 35 Ethiopian Christians still in prison after praying in a private home
    They were arrested in December 2011. Despite US pressures, Saudi authorities deny religion was the motive behind their detention. Since 2006, praying in private has been allowed in Saudi Arabia.

    26/07/2010 SAUDI ARABIA
    Islamic scholars: if the veil is banned, Muslim women may uncover their face
    Leading Saudi experts have criticized the French government decision, which denies freedom of religion, but agree that Muslim women are "allowed" or "it is better to" show their face when required by the law of the host country .



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