Persecution of Christians in Saudi Arabia in the Light of History
The percentage of Saudi Arabians who are Christians is, officially, zero. Wikipedia states that
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is an Islamic theocratic monarchy in which Islam is the official religion. Although no law requires citizens or passport holders to be Muslim, almost all citizens are Muslims.
Non-Muslims are prohibited from entering the cities of Mecca and Medina, Islam's holiest cities.
There are, though, more than a million Roman Catholics but they are non-citizen expatriates who have gone to Saudi Arabia to work. These expatriate Christians are not to openly practice their faith so there are no official churches there. However, the expatriate Christians in the country have been allowed to hold services in homes or large school buildings inside gated communities. Attacks against Christians and human rights abuses, even against Shia Muslims, have in fact been on the rise since King Abdullah was elected to power in 2005.
A bit of history
Christians had started churches in Saudi Arabia after the crucifixion of Jesus. Thought to be one of the earliest church buildings ever discovered by archaeologists (in 1986) is the Jubail Church and it is located in Saudi Arabia. Built around the 4th century, the abandoned church structure is one of the oldest that still remains.
Some Arabian tribes—such as the large powerful Banu Taghlib in northern Arabia and one of the very largest, Banu Tamim, today in the millions—had long ago followed Christianity. The Banu Taghlib had been allowed to keep their Christian faith and their status as Arabs, as a result of their help to Muhammad in his 7th century conquest of Arabia, as long as they paid double the poor tax, the Zaka. During the 7th to 10th century, though, most Christians were either expelled or converted, some forcibly, to Islam.
- Christian Massacre Tugs at Ismailis Hearts in Saudi Arabia - NYTimes.com
Ismailis, widely reviled as heretics by Sunni Muslims in Saudi Arabia, identify with the oppressed Christians of ancient Najran. The story of the Christians' massacre is known there as "al ukhdood," or the trenches.
In southwestern Saudi Arabia, near the border with Yemen is Najran, a provincial capital. Today it is one of the fastest-growing cities in the kingdom.
Historically, it is the site of a Jewish community that was renowned for the garments they manufactured. This also was an important stopping place on the Incense Route during the most prosperous trading period of the first and second centuries B.C., and it was known as Al-Ukhdood. It was there where Christianity first took root in South Arabia.
At the present day site of Al-Ukhdood, south of Najran city, are carvings from those days where also human bones can be seen. The remains of human bones are scattered everywhere—in corridors and on the walls and in the dirt. According to historians, these are the remains of more than 90 thousand men, women and children and the elderly who had died by the burning of a huge fire. The effects of the huge fire is still visible in both charred bones or ash on the walls and ... in a stone groove.
In 524-525, King Dhunoas wanted to deter the Al-Ukhdood people who had believed in God and converted to Christianity. He wanted to bring them back to the Jewish religion. When they refused to give up and leave Christianity, the king was angry and ordered the digging of trenches. It is there, in today what looks like a stone groove, where tens of thousands of Christians were killed and tortured and the effects of that horror can still be seen today in that big groove of a fireplace. The groove remains as a witness to the massacre in the middle of the first millennium AD—an extermination of Christians who refused to return to their former religion.
Later, under the 634–644 reign of the Caliph Umar, the survivors of this Christian community were deported to Mesopotamia on the grounds that non-Muslims were to no longer live in the Arabian Peninsula.
Stop the Torture of Christians in Saudi Arabia
A look at the hypocrisy of the Saudi regime, whose moderate facade conceals state-sponsored repression and terrorism. He also raises troubling questions about Wahhabi infiltration of America’s Islamic community.
- Saudi Arabia: Christian migrant workers forced to convert to Islam - Jihad Watch
Weblog about jihad theology and ideology, correcting popular misconceptions about Islam.
Present Day Persecution and Attacks on Christians
- July 2001 - two underground Christian leaders arrested in Jeddah, one tortured into revealing at least six names of other leaders; part of a campaign to eliminate house churches there.
- January 2002 - three Christians from Ethiopia are suspended with chains and lashed 80 times each with a flexible metal cable in front of more than 1,000 detainees, with no follow-up medical care.
- September 2004 - a Christian from India is sentenced to 10 months and 300 lashes for selling liquor—no mention of biblical excerpts and documentary videos or movies about the Bible he actually sold. Hung upside down he is kicked in the chest and ribs, whipped with electrical wire on his back and on the soles of his feet.
- August 2008 - More than a dozen Christians accused of worshipping in their homes are ordered to be deported.
- August 2008 - a young woman is executed; set afire by her own father, an officer of the Muttawa (morality police), who first cut out her tongue. He is obliged by honor to cleanse his family according to the rules of the rigid Wahhabi doctrine.
- January 2009 - a 28-year-old Christian man is arrested for describing his conversion on his Web site and criticizing the kingdom’s judiciary.
- January 2010 - a Filipino Catholic nurse working at Riyadh hospital reports having seen at least 50 Catholic or Christian Filipino migrants accept Islam under duress; being told they must become Muslim to keep their jobs.
- December 2010 - reports of along with other Islamic countries Saudi Arabia pours millions of dollars into propagating Wahhabism in the Balkans—the version of Islam that calls for attacks on non-Muslims.
- February 2011 - Saudi Arabia enacts one of the most stringent blogging regulations. Non-citizens in the country are not permitted to write about news and be very careful about religion.
Christians Persecuted in Saudi Arabia @3:50 minutes
"Under threat of imprisonment, we were detained and coerced into signing false statements. Would God's deliverance come in time or would we be forgotten and imprisoned in a foreign land?"
Saudi Christian Killed - Testimony of Fatima Al-Mutairi
© 2011 Deidre Shelden
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