Saudi “Religious Police” Release 28 Christians

ICC Note: A raid on a gathering of 28 Christians in the town of Khafiji, Saudi Arabia highlighted again the restrictive policies that the Saudi government places on all non-Sunni worship in the Kingdom. The country’s religious police detained all 28 of those gathered at the meeting and held them over night before releasing them.

09/18/2014 Saudi Arabia (Aleteia) – The 28 Christians who were arrested in Saudi Arabia for worshiping in a private home have been released, according to information obtained by the organization International Christian Concern.

“It was reported to ICC that 27 of the group were held overnight and then released the next day (Saturday),” Todd Daniels, the religious freedom group’s Middle East manager, told Aleteia today. “One of the men, a leader of the group, was held until Sunday morning. ICC was told that the explanation for that was that a sponsor for his visa was out of the country and had to be consulted before he was released.”

The Saudi Gazette, basing its article on Alsharq daily of Qatar, reported that officers of the “Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice” (known as the Haia) responded to a resident’s report of “suspicious activities” in a house in the city of Khafji. The tip alleged that an Indian man had turned his residence into a church. Authorities surveilled the house and finally raided it on Sept. 5, arresting men, women and children. They also seized copies of the Bible and various musical instruments.

Daniels said the persons arrested were largely expatriate workers from South Asia. “They have met regularly for quite some time without serious incident,” he said.

“The Haia members who stormed the house found the men, women and children engaged in religious rituals in one of the rooms,” said the Gazette article.

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