Christian Tourists Risk Arrest if Bibles Are Displayed in Saudi Arabia
10/19/2019 Saudi Arabia (International Christian Concern) – Adherence to strict Saudi Arabian rules include restrictions on open Christian practice. New tourist regulations allow for one Bible to be brought into the country for personal use only. More than one or any public display of the Bible will bring harsh punishment, even for tourists.
Conversion from Islam to Christianity is considered a crime in Saudi Arabia and Christians who live and practice their faith there are in constant danger of imprisonment or violence.
In the past, Saudi Arabia has only granted visas for business or pilgrimage purposes, but as of September 27th, the country is accepting visa applications for tourists. According to the BBC, Tourism Minister Ahmad al-Khateeb heralded this as a historic development that gives more people access to “five UNESCO World Heritage Sites, a vibrant local culture and breathtaking natural beauty.”
Al-Khateeb also commented on whether foreigners would be expected to adhere to their strict societal rules by saying, “We believe our friends and our guests will respect the culture, but definitely it is modest and it will be very clear.”
Saudi Arabia is designated as a Tier 1 Country of Particular Concern by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom because of its systematic, government-sponsored persecution of religious minorities. Christians visiting Saudi Arabia are highly at risk for the same imprisonment and violence as the country’s residents at this time despite the government’s claims that they are working toward greater protections for religious minorities.
If Saudi Arabia truly wants a tourist industry that brings people from across the world to admire its beauty and culture, it must first extend full citizenship and human rights protections to its religious minority residents living in fear.
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