Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Saudi Arabian
Religious Police
Arrest Christians

Thank you to Esther, at Islam In Europe, for sending this over to me:SAUDI ARABIA : POLICE

Detainees held at Jeddah's deportation jail.June 15

(Compass Direct) – Ten Saudi Arabian police armed with woodenclubs raided a private Christian worship meeting in the coastal cityof Jeddah on June 9, arresting four East African citizens leading theservice.

At press time the two Ethiopian and two Eritrean Christians remainedin the city's deportation jail.

More than 100 Eritreans, Ethiopians and Filipinos were gathered forworship in a home in Jeddah's Al-Rowaise district at 11 o'clock lastFriday morning when a group of Saudi police entered the meeting,wooden clubs in hand.

The startled worshippers brought chairs to seat the policemen, who satand waited for the three-hour worship service to conclude. None usedtheir clubs or physically mishandled the worshippers.

"Actually, some muttawa [Muslim religious police] came to this gathering about two weeks before," a local source told Compass, "but they did not do anything."

But after the June 9 weekly praise and prayer service finished, police arrested four leaders of the group: Ethiopian Christians MekbebTelahun and Masai Wendewesen, together with Eritrean Christians FekreGebremedhin and Dawit Uqbay.

The four were jailed in the Jeddah Terhil (Deportation) Center, whereguards have since permitted an acquaintance to bring them all a changeof clothes. Three of the men are married; Wendewesen is single.

A Christian who spoke with the detainees by telephone reported theywere "doing fine, with okay morale." But he said he did not know howthey were being treated, or whether they were undergoinginterrogation.

According to local sources, the incident has been reported to consularofficials of the Philippines and the United States.

Typically the Saudi government deports expatriate Christians caughtconducting worship meetings in their homes or privately owned villas,forcing their employers to terminate their work contracts.

Under the kingdom's strict interpretation of Islamic law, publicnon-Muslim worship is prohibited.