Saudi Arabia to Deport 15 Christians
The Washington-DC based human rights group, International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that Saudi Arabia is deporting 15 Christians on Tuesday, August 5th, for holding private worship meetings in a house in the city of Taif.
On Friday, April 25, twelve Saudi Arabian police raided a house where 16 Christians were holding a prayer meeting. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”