August 6, 2008
Deportation Comes Two Weeks after King Abdullah Calls for Reconciliation Between Muslims and Christians at Saudi-Hosted Interfaith Dialogue
SAUDI ARABIA -- Saudi Arabia was set to deport 15 Christians on Tuesday, August 5, for holding private worship meetings in a house in the city of Taif.
International Christian Concern (ICC) www.persecution.org says that on Friday, April 25, twelve Saudi Arabian police raided a house where 16 Christians were holding a prayer meeting.
In an e-mail report obtained by ANS, ICC says: "The first officer to enter the house after breaking down the main gate pointed a pistol at the Christians and ordered them to hand over their resident permits and mobile phones. The other 11 police followed quickly and started searching the entire house. They confiscated an electronic drum set, an offering box with 500 Saudi Riyal in it ($130), 20 bibles, and a few Christian books."
ICC says the police initially accused the Christians of preaching the Bible and singing. They later changed the charge to holding a "dance party" and collecting money to support terrorism.
The report goes on to say that during the raid, the police mocked, questioned and harassed the Christians for four hours.
"Then they took them to a police station where the head of the station interrogated them. The head of the police then wrote down their 'statements' in Arabic and forced the Christians, who are immigrants and not able to read or write Arabic, to sign the statements."
After the interrogations, the Christians were incarcerated and held incommunicado. After three days, the Christians were finally released on April 27, 2008 at 8 PM, ICC said.
The ICC report stated: "Upon release, one of the Christians permanently departed the country. The others, thinking that their ordeal was over, went back to their daily lives and work but soon received letters demanding that they leave the country immediately."
ICC says the arrested Christians are hard working people who came to Saudi Arabia to improve their lives and to contribute to the economic growth of the country. The Saudi officials' decision to deport them for practicing their faith is despicable.
ICC adds: "The decision to deport them runs contrary to recent attempts to portray the kingdom as a beacon of reconciliation among Christians, Muslims, Jews and others. Three weeks ago, Saudi Arabia hosted an interfaith conference in Madrid, Spain. During the conference that took place from July 16-19, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia called for reconciliation among various religions."
Jeff King, ICC's President, said, "Deporting Christians for worshipping in their private homes shows that King Abdullah's speech is mere rhetoric and his country is deceiving the international community about their desire for change and reconciliation."
Please pray for the Christians that face deportation so that Saudi officials will change their decision and allow them to continue working in the country. Please call the Saudi Arabian embassy in your country and ask the officials at the embassies to stop deporting the Christians.
Saudi Arabian Embassies:
Country Phone Fax Email
USA: (202) 342-3800; (202) 944-3126 Info@saudiembassy.net
Canada: (613) 237-4100; (613) 237-0567
UK: +44 (0)20 7917 3000; email@example.com
Australia: (02) 6250 7000; (02) 6282 8911
ICC is a Washington-DC based human rights organization that exists to help persecuted Christians worldwide. ICC delivers humanitarian aid, trains and supports persecuted pastors, raises aware ness in the US regarding the problem of persecution, and is an advocate for the persecuted on Capitol Hill and the State Department.
For additional information or for an interview, contact ICC's President Jeff King at 800-422-5441. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright 2008 ASSIST News Service. Used with permission