SAUDI ARABIA: Prison and lashes for “brainwashing” woman to become Christian

The Al-Khobar District Court has found two men, one Lebanese and one Saudi Arabian, guilty of “brainwashing” a Saudi woman, known only as the “girl of Khobar”, to convert to Christianity and helping her to leave the country with a false travel permit over a year ago.

The Lebanese man was sentenced to six years in prison and 300 lashes, while the Saudi was sentenced to two years and 200 lashes. Their lawyers have challenged the verdict and said they would file an appeal.

SAUDI ARABIA: Eritrean preacher held in prison

An Eritrean Christian preacher, Mussie Eyob, was arrested on 12 February 2011 at a mosque in Jeddah, the capital of Saudi Arabia.

Mussie, who became a Christian two years ago, wanted to share his faith with members of his community, and started preaching at the Eritrean Embassy. After three days of doing this he went to the local mosque to meet and talk with attendants there, but he was arrested for preaching to Muslims, a capital offence in Saudi Arabia.

SAUDI ARABIA: 46 Christians arrested in new crackdown

Since late May, Saudi authorities have been engaging in a series of raids and arrests involving a joint effort of standard police forces and muttawa, the self-elected Wahabbi religious police. The arrest of 46 Christians has been confirmed , with some sources citing in excess of 100 Christians arrested.This is the largest crackdown in several decades in the religiously oppressive country.

The crackdown comes in the wake of controversial reports of an American desecrating a Quran at the Guantanamo Bay detention centre. The connection between these reports and the crackdown has been made because during the latest wave of arrests, Saudi authorities have been ransacking houses and destroying any Bibles found in the victims’ possession.

 

On Saturday 28 May 2005 at 8:30pm, Chittirical John Thomas, an Indian national, was forcefully taken from work in Riyadh by Saudi muttawa authorities, dragged to his home and beaten in front of his maid and 5-year old son.The muttawa then gathered his Bible and all religious paraphernalia, and took 37-year old Chittirical to the Shemaissy Detention Centre. His wife, who is five months pregnant, has not heard from her husband since.

In addition to Mr Thomas, seven other Indian nationals were arrested in similar fashion and detained for their faith as Christians whilst they were asleep on the same night.

These arrests followed the detention of Samkutty Varghese outside his Bible study venue on 22 March 2005. Samkutty possessed the names and numbers of other Christians attending the same fellowship group. Varghese was reportedly sentenced to 10 months in prison along with several lashes.

This latest crackdown on Christians illustrates the oppressive regime under which all religious minorities live and work in Saudi Arabia. (International Christian Concern)

SAUDI ARABIA: Christian prisoner released and deported

Brian O’Connor , an Indian Christian who had been detained since March, was deported unconditionally from Saudi Arabia yesterday. He was met at Bombay airport by friends.

He was taken to the airport last Saturday but his departure was postponed pending the return of money which had been confiscated from him at the time of his arrest. On Monday night he was taken there again and was allowed a farewell hug with his Christian friends before being taken through to the departure lounge.

 

Brian’s unconditional deportation ends the threat of receiving the 300 lashes that he was sentenced to on 20th October for allegedly selling alcohol. Brian consistently denied this allegation, and was supported in doing so by those who knew him, including his employer.

Brian O’Connor was arrested on 25th March by the Mutawa ( religious police) after being lured outside his house by a mutawa pretending to be an Egyptian who urgently needed to speak with him. The Mutawa took him to one of their offices adjacent to a Mosque where he was severely beaten. They ordered him to sign a paper admitting to selling alcohol.

However he refused, stating that it wasn’t true. He was then physically mistreated but continued to refuse to sign. He was pressed to convert to Islam. His home was searched and Christian videos, CDs and Bibles confiscated. The videos had been recorded from Christian satellite TV channels and were not pornographic as later alleged in court.

SAUDI ARABIA: Indian Christian still imprisoned

Brian O’Connor , a 36 year-old Indian Christian remains in prison in Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia, despite being told in August by a Saudi government official that he would be either deported to his native India or released to return to his job as a cargo agent with Saudia Airways within two weeks.

 

Brian was accosted in the Mursalat district of Riyadh on the evening of March 25 by four agents of the muttawa (religious police). After seeing his Saudi identity card listing him as a Christian, they dragged Brian to a nearby muttawa office, chained his legs and hung him upside down for seven hours. The four intermittently beat him on the chest and ribs and whipped the soles of his feet with electrical wires.

In response to questions, Brian declared that he did preach the Bible, but denied converting Muslims to Christianity. At 2 a.m., the muttawa took Brian to the Olaya police station and ordered him put under arrest on charges of preaching Christianity, selling liquor and peddling drugs. A cargo agent for Saudia Airlines for the past six years, Brian has been sharing a windowless cell with 16 other inmates at Al-Hair Prison.

The head of the prison has told a visitor that there was no evidence to support the charges of involvement with alcohol or drugs against him. Brian is a faithful member of a house fellowship, hosted Bible Studies, and has been in Saudi Arabia for six years. (Compass/ Middle East Concern)