Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Saudi Arabia Says
"You Are Free To Be A Christian
As Long As You Don't Open Your Mouth"


From Associated Press, via Little Green Footballs:


A Saudi official denied allegations that the kingdom has arrested and tortured Christians, saying such actions run counter to Islamic tolerance.

The remarks to the official Saudi Press Agency came in response to reports in Iranian papers of recent arrests.

The official, who spoke to SPA on condition of anonymity, said the allegations "don't go with the principals and values of the kingdom and above all our tolerant Islamic belief which guarantees the rights of Muslims and residents of different religions and ethnicities alike."
Saudi officials rarely speak on the record.

Members of other religions in the conservative Islamic kingdom generally are allowed to practice their beliefs in private but are prohibited from seeking converts or holding organized religious gatherings.

The State Department listed Saudi Arabia as a "country of particular concern" in a report last September on the state of religious freedom in more than 190 countries. Countries so designated can be subject to sanctions. The report accused Saudi Arabia of "particularly severe violations" of religious freedom.

The Washington-based watchdog group International Christian Concern, a nonprofit organization, reported last week that Saudi security and religious police have engaged in a major crackdown against Christians, saying it had received reports of 46 confirmed arrests of Christians in the wake of reports of the desecration of the Quran at the military prison camp in Guantanamo, Cuba.