Saudi Arabia: 42 Ethiopian Christians arrested for Prayer Meeting

18/12/2011

If Muslim migrants were subjected anywhere in the world to the injustices Christians and other expat workers face in Saudi Arabia, it would be front page news. By contrast, these stories quietly trickle out and go largely unreported.

Even so, behavior like this from the Saudis does not create the image of a strong, confident faith. Their paranoia conveys a sense of fragility and fear. Even by “winning,” by trying to show who’s boss, they lose. “42 Ethiopian Christians arrested in Saudi Arabia,” from Persecution, December 17:

International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that Saudi security forces arrested 42 Ethiopian Christians at a prayer gathering in Jeddah on Thursday. The location of the detained Christians is unknown.

On December 15, Saudi police and security officers raided an evening prayer meeting at the home of an Ethiopian Christian in the Al-Safa district of Jeddah. Those attending the service were reportedly beaten and threatened before being arrested.

Just for fun, someone should tell authorities that a man of Jewish background has slipped into the country and, according to local reports, is in the habit of joining these gatherings “wherever two or three” come together. It could make for a good all-points bulletin, not to mention the subsequent headline: “Saudis desperate to find Jesus.”

“Security officials broke [into] the house and captured . . . beat and threatened them for death. . . They divided the men and the women and they are torturing them [in prison],” an Ethiopian and Eritrean Christian immigrant community living in Europe wrote in an urgent appeal for help to the ambassadors of European embassies in Riyadh on Friday.

Two Ethiopian fellowships in Saudi Arabia informed ICC that they will temporarily postpone services until the situation calms. Christians in Saudi Arabia, most of who enter the country as foreign workers, are not allowed to practice their faith openly. Saudi police have been known to raid private worship gatherings in homes, arrest and deport congregants, and confiscate Christian materials, including Bibles.

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