Religious Tolerance in Saudi Arabia

Disclaimer: this post includes references to the following two news articles.  I do not know the veracity of the articles nor the legitimacy of the web-sites.

Saudi Arabia arrests Christian blogger

Pastor flees death threats

Churches, synagogues, temples are banned in Saudi Arabia however people are allowed to practice their religion in private. They are not permitted to practice in public or in large gatherings. Proselytizing is definitely banned, whether direct or indirect.

Last year was one of change. There was talk of negotiations between the Vatican and Saudi Arabia to open the first Roman Catholic church in KSA. Saudi Arabia hosted an interfaith dialogue conference in June, sponsored a 2-day UN conference to promote interfaith dialogue and is actually leading the same UN Faith Forum!

In light of these happenings in 2008 it is surprising that at the beginning of 2009 there would be reports of arresting a blogger talking about how he converted from Islam to Christianity, and death threats against the ex-pastor of a 300 person church (~ 150 members would congregate at his house, not all 300).

It would appear that the tension between the “Commission for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice” and the rest of the administration and population is heating up again. There are constant reminders of the different directions the country is being pulled in. Sometimes it is stories about probes into Vice cops raid of British universities fair and sometimes stories about arrests of Christian bloggers.

The situation is not going to get better anytime soon but at least the indicators of change are starting to appear.

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2 Responses

  1. I am constantly amazed when I hear about converts to Christianity who flaunt it on blogs or elsewhere. Tolerance does not yet exist in Saudi Arabia, and people who practice other faiths there, except in total secrecy, are simply naive.

    Tolerance will not develop by behaving as if it’s already well established. People cannot stay in the Kingdom and practice Christianity without risking the consequences. If they must practice, they should leave, until real tolerance is established.

    I would never excuse death threats to a pastor, or jailing a young blogger, but the fact that these incidents occurred at all should send a strong message to those who think they can safely practice a religion other than Islam in the heartland of Islam.

  2. Religious tolerance is not something you find in Saudi Arabia certainly and ignoring this and announcing that you have converted from Islam to another faith knowing very well that the major belief is death for Muslim converts is just stupid.
    That said I do have knowledge of the Saudi government workings. The Saudi government would usually ask converts to either keep it a secret or leave the country and jail is almost never an option. For the case of this Saudi Christan I have just checked his website. First off this guy has no personal info on the site which makes you wounder how they got him, also all of the postings on the site are for December 2008 which makes me question all the dates they have in the article. Finally even if the guy wasn’t Christan he would have been arrested because he attacks both the royal family and Islam, not criticism but attack, as so I conclude if the story is true that he is arrested for his anti government writings and not for his faith.

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