Crackdown on Christians Intensifies on Osama Bin Laden's Home Country of Saudi Arabia

Wednesday, October 3, 2001

By Michael Ireland
Chief Correspondent
ASSIST News Service

JIDDAH, SAUDI ARABIA (ANS) -- A further six Christian men have been arrested in the coastal city of Jiddah, Saudi Arabia, as the crackdown on believers in the city escalates, according to Christian Solidarity Worldwide.

According to CSW, four Ethiopians, an Eritrean and a Filipino were detained by the Saudi Arabian authorities between August 21 and September 4.

This brings the total number of arrests of Christians in Jiddah this summer to 15 according to reports from human rights agency Middle East Concern, said a statement put out by CSW.

"CSW believes one reason for the continued arrests of ex-pat believers in the city is an attempt to track down Saudis who have Christian sympathies," said spokesman Richard Chilvers.

"Of the fifteen, two have been released -- Tishome, one of the Ethiopians, and Wilfredo Caliuag, who was deported to the Philippines on August 9, having spent two days in a coma in a Jiddah Hospital as a direct result of the appalling conditions in which he was held," said Chilvers.

The remaining 13 have been denied consular access, although some of the men have been permitted to see their families, Chilvers said.

"Prabhu Isaac, arrested on July 19, has now been held for over 10 weeks and sources report that the Indian consulate has never been officially notified of his arrest," said Chilvers.

According to reliable reports, CSW believes that all those detained are being held solely in connection with their Christian faith, he said.

Mervyn Thomas, chief executive of CSW, said: "Recent international events have led to a global call for the eradication of radical Islamic terrorism. At the same time, intolerance against peace-loving Christians quietly continues in Islamic regimes and must also be stamped out."

"CSW appeals for tolerance in calling for the immediate release of these men, whom we believe to be prisoners of conscience," said Thomas.

Thomas said that according to Saudi law, its citizens must be Muslim, but officials have said that ex-patriate non-Muslims are free to worship in private.

"CSW urges the rulers of Saudi Arabia to protect the freedom of non-Sunni Muslims to worship in private," he said.

For further information please contact Richard Chilvers on 020 8949 0587 or 020 8942 8810 or email
Assist News Service. Used with Permission.