When Saudi authorities discovered a man working in Mecca was a Christian, they immediately arrested him, highlighting the desert kingdom’s law barring non-Muslims from the Islamic holy city.

The Saudi regime’s Expatriates Monitoring Committee used a new high-tech finger-print system to identify Nirosh Kamanda of Sri Lanka as a Christian, reported Arab News, the government-approved English-language paper.

“The Grand Mosque and the holy city are forbidden to non-Muslims,” said Col. Suhail Matrafi, head of the department in charge of Expatriates Affairs in Mecca. “The new fingerprints system is very helpful and will help us a lot to discover the identity of a lot of criminals and overstayers.”

Highway sign warns non-Muslims not to stray on wrong path

Kamanda came to the Saudi city of Dammam to work as a truck driver and left his sponsor to sell goods near Mecca’s Grand Mosque, Arab News reported. The sponsor reportedly denied he knew where Kamanda was working.

“He fled six months after coming to the kingdom,” the sponsor said. “I have no idea how he reached Mecca.”

Arab News said that after Kamanda’s identity became known, he admitted he was a Christian and had come to Mecca to earn money.

“I heard that Mecca is a safe place, where I could hide my identity,” he said.

The U.S. State Department, in its annual reports on human rights worldwide, consistently has stated “religious freedom does not exist” in Saudi Arabia, which is dominated by the strict Wahhibist interpretation of Islam. In the kingdom, the State Department says, non-Muslim “worshippers risk arrest, imprisonment, lashing, deportation and sometimes torture for engaging in religious activity that attracts official attention.”

The Saudi royal family has stated it permits non-Muslims to practice their own religion in the privacy of their homes, but many arrests have been made of worshippers in house churches.

In 2004, for the first time, the State Department named Saudi Arabia a “country of particular concern,” subjecting it to possible sanctions for egregious and ongoing violations of religious freedom.

In the U.S., an estimated 80 percent of mosques are supported largely with funds and imams from Saudi Arabia.

As WorldNetDaily reported, the Senate Judiciary Committee held hearings in 2005 in response to a yearlong study by a Washington human-rights group asserting the government of Saudi Arabia is disseminating propaganda through American mosques that teaches hatred of Jews and Christians and instructs Muslims that they are on a mission behind enemy lines in a land of unbelievers.

Responding to the report by the Center for Religious Freedom at Freedom House, 15 senators, including Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., wrote Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice demanding the Bush administration take stronger action against Riyadh.

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