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Brian O’Connor: the doubts and hopes of King Abdullah’s visit to the Pope

ICC Note

Christian worshippers risk arrest, lashing, and deportation for engaging in overt religious activity and there are no official churches in Saudi Arabia

By Nirmala Carvalho

11/07/2007 14:14 Saudi Arabia (AsiaNews)-

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How do Christians live in Saudi Arabia ?

The Saudi kingdom falsely claims to believe in Human Rights, but in my own personal experience, Saudi Arabia ‘s human rights record is appalling, and this is manifest in its persecution. Saudi Arabia currently has one of the worst records of all countries on human rights and there is no freedom of religion. It is very essential for Christians to praise and worship in Saudi as there are lots of Christian working there. Christian worshippers risk arrest, lashing, and deportation for engaging in overt religious activity and there are no official churches in Saudi Arabia . The ever vigilant Muttawa or religious police are employed to enforce adherence to Islamic norms by monitoring public behaviour and even the personal lives of the people in the Saudi kingdom. The world must know that in Saudi, Christians are targeted for abuse, discrimination, and persecution, without any authentic verification, they can be picked up and arrested for proselytism, even their evidence is fabricated. Christians are even targeted for owning, printing, or distributing of any non-Muslim religious material.

What prospective may open in the aftermath of King Abdullah’s visit to the Vatican ?

I hope this meeting will usher in a climate of tolerance and reciprocity for non- Muslims in the kingdom. I hope that there will be Liberty to open places of Christian worship and Churches in Saudi. I know the holiest sites of Muslims are there in Saudi, but in Rome too there are mosques, that there must and should be a spirit of reciprocity if the King was sincere in his desire to meet the Pope officially. If any Muslims any where in the world are jailed for whatever reason, they have the liberty of demanding a Koran, on the other hand, if a Christian is prosecuted and jailed in a Muslim country, and they request for a Bible, they are denied the Bible. If the King concedes full religious freedom then yesterday’s visit can be described as fruitful and the King’s intentions as sincere.

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