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« on: June 07, 2005, 04:48:31 AM »

From Christian Web Life
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2.) Saudi Arabia Launches Severe Crackdown On Christians

    by Jeremy Reynalds

    There have been 46 confirmed arrests of Christians in Saudi Arabia, with some sources citing in excess of 100 Christians arrested.

    That according to the Washington, D.C. based human rights organization International Christian Concern (ICC).

    During the last week, ICC reported, Saudi authorities engaged in a major crackdown involving a joint effort of both regular and "Muttawa" religious police.

    According to a news release from ICC, this was the largest crackdown in several decades in the religiously oppressive country.

    The crackdown came after allegations against the United States for desecrating the Qur'an at the Guantanamo Bay detention center.

    During the latest wave of arrests, ICC reported, Saudi authorities ransacked houses and destroyed any Bibles they found. The organization says it also learned that eight Christians were arrested, and documents naming other area Christians were seized.

    Last weekend, ICC reported, Chittirical John Thomas, an Indian national, was dragged from work in Riyadh by Saudi Muttawa authorities, taken to his home, and beaten in front of his maid and five- year-old son. The Muttawa gathered his Bible and other religious items, and took 37 year-old Thomas to a detention center. Thomas's wife, who is five months pregnant, has not heard from her husband since.

    In addition to Thomas, seven other Indian nationals were also woken, arrested and imprisoned for their Christian faith last Saturday.

    According to ICC, these arrests followed the detention of Samkutty Varghese outside his Bible study on March 22 2005. Varghese had the names and numbers of other Christians attending the same fellowship group. ICC said the organization has received credible reports that Varghese was beaten and sentenced to 10 months in prison.

    ICC commented that "this pogrom-like sweeping of the Christian minority in Saudi Arabia ... shows deficient resolve in enforcing sanctions on ‘Countries of Particular Concern’ (CPC)."

    These are nations designated by then U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell as having "particularly severe violations of religious freedom under the International Religious Freedom Act" (www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2003/18302.htm).

    A news release from ICC commented, "The inaction of the world's leader in promoting freedom is reprehensible, and risks breaching the line of irrelevance on matters of religious freedom and human rights. The United States and the broader international community need to hold Saudi Arabia accountable for egregious violations of religious freedom. This latest crackdown on Christians is inexcusable, and highlights the oppressive regime under which all religious minorities live and work in Saudi Arabia."

    According to the same news release from ICC, the United States has allowed over two months after the deadline for implementing direct action against Saudi Arabia for the CPC status. Now, there are only 6 days left to act under the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 (www.state.gov/g/drl/irf/).

    ICC is a Washington, D.C. based human rights organization that exists to help persecuted Christians worldwide.
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