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.

The authorities, concerned that Mussie might be mentally ill, had him examined by doctors, who declared him fit for trial and sentencing. Mussie has been transferred to the notorious high-security Briman prison.

Friends and family who visited Mussie on 20 March said that, although he has lost weight, he is in relatively good spirits. However, members of his family are very concerned for his welfare and have asked for advocacy on his behalf. (Release Eritrea)

Church in Chains has written to Mr Abdulaziz Abdulrahman Aldriss, the Saudi Arabian Ambassador to Ireland, appealing for the Saudi government to show compassion to Mr Eyob.

TWO INDIAN CHRISTIANS ARRESTED

Mussie Eyob’s arrest follows that of two Indian Christians in Saudi Arabia, on 21 January 2011. They were arrested after attending a prayer meeting and accused of converting Muslims to Christianity. Yohan Nese (31) and Vasantha Sekhar Vara (28) were arrested when mutaween (religious police) raided an apartment. They were interrogated, beaten to the point of injury and asked for details of Christian groups and pastors in Saudi Arabia.

The next morning, the authorities took the two Christians to the Religious Court in Riyadh, where they were sentenced to 45 days in prison – they have been in prison ever since. Their cell is so small that, when one sleeps, the other must stand. Speaking by telephone to his pastor in India, Vasantha said that he had been pressurised to convert to Islam but had refused. “If I have to die for my God, I will die for him here,” he said.
(Compass Direct News)