International Christian Concern
For Immediate Release
You are free to disseminate the following news. We request that you reference ICC (International Christian Concern) and include our web address www.www.persecution.org.
CHRISTIAN, BRIAN OCONNOR, SENTENCED BY
(October 25, 2004) – The Washington-DC based human rights group, International Christian Concern (ICC www.www.persecution.org) has learned that Brian OConnor, an Indian ex-patriot residing in Saudi Arabia , was sentenced by a Saudi Arabian court on Wednesday, October 20. The Saudi court sentenced OConnor to 10 months in jail and 300 lashes, and warned him of harsher penalties for appealing the case.
OConnor was originally arrested on March 25, 2004 for spreading Christianity by Saudi Arabia s religious police known as the Muttawa. According to reports ICC received from visitors, the young Indian native was immediately tortured by police following his arrest. OConnors legs were first chained and he was hung upside down when the Muttawa came in turns of four and kicked [Brian] in the chest and rib area continuously until 2 a.m.
After enduring months in a Saudi prison, OConnor was taken to court in late September for a brief, 90 minute hearing. Charges brought against Brian OConnor included selling alcohol and possession of pornography, in addition to spreading Christianity. Executives at his employer declared that the allegations against their employee are a cover-up for the real reason for his arrest. It is very typical for Saudi authorities to mask their zero-tolerance policy regarding other religions in the heavily Islamic state by presenting false charges in addition to proselytization charges.
No mention was made of the religious charges brought before OConnor in his latest hearing, where he was sentenced to 10 months in jail and 300 lashes. This omission clearly illustrates the willingness of Saudi authorities to cover up their religious intolerance. The court then asked OConnor to respond to his sentence, at which point he stated that he did not agree to this sentence. Court officials replied that his case would go to a higher court and added that there would be a further extension of time and a heavier sentence in case the high court finds him guilty. The court then offered OConnor 10days to think about their offer, but he refused.
This case is only the latest in a long string of attacks on religious freedom in Saudi Arabia , which caused the U.S. State Department to list them as a Country of Particular Concern (CPC) in their latest report on religious freedom. ICC find the actions of the Saudi Arabian judicial system to be outrageous and calls on all Americans to contact their Congressional representative and voice concern over this latest action to the Saudi embassy as well:
Embassy of Saudi Arabia