Jeddah, as promoted by Saudi government
Saudi Arabian security forces have arrested and detained 35 members of an Ethiopian Christian prayer group in the western city of Jeddah, according to ministries that monitor religious persecution in the restricted Islamic nation.
International Christian Concern says their sources tell them the Ethiopian immigrants were beaten and threatened by Saudi security forces before being taken into custody.
The present location of the Ethiopian Christians is unknown.
ICC Middle East analyst Jonathan Racho said the treatment of the Ethiopian Christians is ironic, because Islam’s prophet, Muhammad, sent his followers to Ethiopia for refuge when they were persecuted by pagans in Saudi Arabia in the seventh century.
“He said, ‘Go to Ethiopia. There is a Christian king in Ethiopia who will give you refuge,” Racho said.
“So Islam survived because of the hospitality of the Christians in Ethiopia.
Now look what they’re doing to Christians who are going to Saudi
Racho reported that the 35 Christians assembled Dec. 15 for their regular Thursday night worship service.
“As they were gathered, the Saudi officials came in and arrested them. And, they’ve been imprisoned. It’s very outrageous,” he said.
Saudi Arabia forbids any religious expression except for Islam, and the strict Wahhabi interpretation of Islam is the only officially recognized religion.
“Christians in that country are immigrants from other countries who are forced to worship in their homes. That’s what they were doing when they were arrested,” Racho explained.
Listen to an interview with Racho:
Writing about the incident, a commentator at Jihad Watch said the Saudis’ show of brute force reveals weakness.
“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,” the commentator said.
Oil-rich Saudi Arabia’s human rights violations generally go unreported. The Wall Street Journal reported in 2009 that a delegation from Human Rights Watch traveled to Saudi Arabia, not to condemn the regime’s treatment of religious minorities and women, but to raise money from the Saudi royal family.
As WND reported in January, an Open Doors report included Saudi Arabia as one of the world’s chief violators of religious liberty.
The report said the top offenders were Iran, which clamps down on a growing house church movement; Afghanistan, where thousands of believers cluster deep underground; and Saudi Arabia, which bans conversion from Islam.
Even with the documented religious persecution by the Saudi regime, the United States continues to import an average of 1,100 barrels of oil daily from Saudi Arabia.
The State Department did not respond to WND’s request for comment.