08/16/2007, 00.00
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Christian doctor held “hostage” in Saudi kingdom released

Dr Mamdooh Fahmy is back in Egypt. For two years Saudi authorities refused to let him leave the kingdom. Religious police had accused him of being a missionary had confiscated his passport. International campaign on his behalf led to his freedom.

Riyadh (AsiaNews) – A human rights group, the International Christian Concern (ICC), has announced that an Egyptian Christian medical doctor held “hostage” by the Saudi government is on his way home. The Washington-based group had organised a campaign in favour of his release.

“We received confirmation today that he has landed in Cairo, Egypt, and is now with his family,” an ICC spokesperson said.

A source close to the doctor called his return to Egypt a “miracle.”

In 2004 Dr Mamdooh Fahmy was a surgeon at Albyaan Menfhoh Medical Center in Riyadh. From the beginning of his employment he was insulted by his Muslim colleagues because he was Christian.

A year later he received a visited by Saudi Arabia’s infamous Muttawa (religious police).

After his house was searched by Muttawa agents he was arrested and charged for being a Christian missionary and consuming alcoholic beverages.

After five days in solitary confinement he was released. Jobless, he tried to return to Egypt but Saudi authorities refused to return his passport and grant him an exit visa.

The Muttawa comes under the Committee for the Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice. It is tasked with enforcing Sharia law against drinking alcohol, improper dress and all other “immoral” behaviours.

Religious freedom does not exist in Saudi Arabia. All religions other than Wahhabi Islam are banned, except when strictly practiced within the confines of the home.

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