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Religious Freedom Nonexistent in Saudi Arabia
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Saudi Arabia was again designated as a ‘‘country of particular concern’’ for its ongoing and egregious violations of religious freedom by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom in its recently released Annual Report 2006.
The document, released 2weeks ago, reported that the government of Saudi Arabia continues to enforce vigorously its ban on all forms of public religious expression other than the government’s interpretation of the Hanbali school of Sunni Islam .
According to the report, the Saudi government continues to punish and abuse non-Muslim foreigners for private religious practice in Saudi Arabia . In September 2004, seven Filipino Christian leaders were arrested and detained when the mutawaa (religious police) raided a religious service. Although the Christian leaders were released within one month, the mutawaa reportedly pressured their employers to deport them, resulting in six deportations by late 2005.
Non-government organizations outside of Saudi Arabia continue to report that a number of school textbooks contain highly intolerant and discriminatory language, particularly against Jews, Christians, and Shi’a Muslims.
Furthermore, in the past year, there were frequent reports of “virulently” anti-Semitic and anti-Christian sentiments expressed in the official media and in sermons delivered by clerics who are under the authority of the Ministry of Islamic Affairs. In some cases, the State Department reported, clerics prayed for the death of Jews and Christians.
Saudi Arabia was first designated as a “country of particular concern” in September 2004 by the State Department. Other countries recommended for the CPC list for 2006 are: Burma , Democratic People’s Republic of Korea ( North Korea ), Eritrea , Iran , Pakistan , People’s Republic of China , Sudan , Turkmenistan , Uzbekistan , and Vietnam .