01/26/2007, 00.00
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Riyadh should “stop religious persecution of Ahmadis”

In an open letter to the king of Saudi Arabia, Human Rights Watch calls for an end to the wave of arrests, detentions and deportations against the Ahmadi community, which is considered heretical by Islamic extremists.

Dubai (AsiaNews) – Saudi Arabia continues to persecute the Ahmadi community with arrests and deportations in a grave violation of internationally-recognised rights to religious freedom, New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) reported.

Ahmadis consider themselves Muslim but are seen as heretical by other Muslims because they do not view Muhammad as the last prophet. For this reason they suffer persecution by Islamic extremists in many Islamic countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Iran and Saudi Arabia.

In an open letter to Saudi King Abdullah, the organisation writes: Your “government’s arrest and detention of members of the Ahmadi community solely on the basis of their religion is a grave violation of this right”.

Moreover, the arrest and deportation of non-Saudi members who have not broken any law to other countries like Pakistan or India is unacceptable. The letter goes on to say: “We write to urge you to put an immediate end to Saudi Arabia’s nationwide campaign to round up followers of the Ahmadi faith who have committed no crime.”

It notes that Saudi authorities have arrested 56 non-Saudi followers of the faith, “including infants and young children” whose whereabouts are unknown.

The human rights watchdog ends the letter calling on Riyadh to “commit (to) and respect freedom of religion and freedom to peacefully assemble and pray with others” and end this unjust persecution.

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