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Monday, April 25, 2005
Saudi Arabia detains 40 Christians - newspapers

Saudi Arabia detains 40 Christians - newspapers
Sat Apr 23, 2005 11:28 AM ET
www.reuters.com/newsArticle.jhtml?type=topNews&storyID=8272382

RIYADH (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia has detained 40 Pakistani Christians for
holding prayers at a house in the Muslim kingdom, where practicising any
religion other than Islam is illegal, newspapers said on Saturday.

A group of men, women and children were attending the service in the capital
Riyadh when police raided the house, Al Jazirah newspaper said.

It said authorities also found Christian tapes and books.

Another Saudi daily, Al Yaum, said the raid took place on Friday while a
Pakistani preacher was delivering a sermon. It was not clear what measures
might be taken against the group.

Saudi authorities were not immediately available to comment.

There are around six million foreigners in the conservative kingdom, which
has a population of 23 million, including many Christians from Europe, North
America, Asia and other Arab states.

In a rare official rebuke of a close ally last year, Washington accused
Saudi Arabia of severe violations of religious freedom.
"Freedom of religion is not recognized or protected under the country's laws
and basic religious freedoms are denied to all but those who adhere to the
state-sanctioned version of Sunni Islam," the State Department said in an
annual report.

Following the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, which were carried out by mainly
Saudis, the Gulf Arab state's religious establishment came under sharp
criticism by the West for fostering militancy and intolerance of other
religions.

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