CHRISTIANS IN SAUDI ARABIA
On April 23, 2005, Saudi newspapers reported that 40 Pakistanis were arrested by the Saudi religious police in a Riyadh apartment for conducting Christian religious activity. The following are excerpts from the reports:
The Saudi daily Al-Jazirah reported that 40 men, women, and children with Pakistani citizenship were arrested on April 21, 2005 after performing Christian religious rites in an apartment in the Thaharat Al-Badi'a neighborhood in western Riyadh. The arrest was part of a sweeping police operation by the Riyadh District Police, at the order of Riyadh Governor Prince Salman bin Abd Al-'Aziz.
The paper reported that the operation came after Saudi religious police - known as the Authority for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice
(For more information on The Authority for the Promotion of Virtue and the Preventation of Vice See: Special Dispatch Series No. 504, "Saudi Religious Police Launch Website," May 13, 2002,
"The Saudi Media Debates Flogging by the Saudi Reliogus Police," January 08, 2004,
- followed and collected information on the activity of the 40, who listened to a proselytizing lecture by a Pakistani minister.
The paper also noted that during the police operation, which lasted nearly 10 hours, a cross and a large number of proselytizing books and cassettes were found [in the apartment]. The detainees themselves stated that they had come to listen to lectures by the minister. One of the detainees was a Muslim Pakistani, who acknowledged that he had been influenced by the Christian ideology.
Al-Jazirah (Saudi Arabia), April 23, 2005.
The Saudi daily Al-Riyadh said that the detainees had set up a church in the apartment, equipped with crosses, pictures, and statues. Likewise, it was said that during their religious activity, one of them was found praying, as the others present repeated their words, and one of the women arrested was listing the people's confessions and distributing writs of absolution. The Al-Riyadh report included a photo of the detainees and of a large cross and the group, which was arrested.
A Saudi religious police source explained the reason for the arrest: "These people tried to spread the poison and their beliefs to others, by means of distributing pamphlets and [missionary] publications." He said that all the detainees "had been transferred to the relevant bodies for investigation."
Al-Riyadh (Saudi Arabia), April 23, 2005.
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