Religious intolerance persists in Saudi Arabia
“If Mohammed proclaimed to protect and accept Christians and their churches… then why are despicable violations of religious freedom happening in Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Islam?” John Meinhold comments in response to a Seacoast Sunday op-ed.
By John Meinhold
4/4/2012 Saudi Arabia (Seacoast Online) – I am responding to the April 1 Seacoast Sunday op-ed “When we are willing to believe anything.”
The writer, Robert Azzi… cited a document from the Prophet Mohammed on behalf of the monks from St. Catherine’s Monastery in Mount Sinai that covers “all aspects of human rights including such topics as the protection of Christians, freedom of worship and movement, freedom to appoint their own judges and to own and maintain their properties.”
He says, “This is the Islam I embrace.”
Why then do official U.S. government documents show Saudi Arabia is violating human rights of Christians, Jews, and other religious groups, including other Muslims, who are not Sunni “Wahhabi” Muslims?
According to the newly released 2012 Annual Report of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), “systematic, ongoing and egregious violations of religious freedom continue in Saudi Arabia.” The report says, “More than 10 years since the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States, the Saudi government has failed to implement a number of promised reforms related to promoting freedom of thought, conscience, and or belief. The Saudi government … prohibits churches, synagogues, temples, and other non-Muslim places of worship, uses in its schools and posts online state textbooks that continue to espouse intolerance and incite violence, and periodically interferes with private religious practice.” Futhermore, the report says, “The government continues to prohibit foreign religious leaders from seeking and obtaining visas to enter Saudi Arabia.”
Catholic and Orthodox Christians need clergy in order to receive the holy sacraments of communion.
The USCIRF report says, “On December 15, 2011, approximately 35 Ethiopian Christians were detained for holding a private prayer gathering. … Some have alleged physical abuse during interrogations.” As of the writing of the USCIRF report (February 2012), they were still being detained by the Saudi government.
The U.S. State Department Travel Advice for Saudi Arabia says, “The government prohibits the public practice of religions other than Islam. Non-Muslims suspected of violating these restrictions have been jailed. … Saudi customs and postal officials broadly define what is contrary to Islam and therefore prohibited. Christmas decorations … may be confiscated and the owner subject to penalties and fines. Public display of non-Islamic religious articles such as crosses and Bibles is not permitted.”
If Mohammed proclaimed to protect and accept Christians and their churches as Mr. Azzi claims, then why are these despicable violations of religious freedom happening in Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Islam?