2002 October 09 Wednesday
Be Concerned About Saudi Religious Freedom?

This is such a tough call. Saudi Arabia has no freedom of religion. So should the US government list it as a country of particular concern? A few thousand dead people would probably say yes:

The United States is debating whether to include Saudi Arabia on a blacklist of "countries of particular concern" that restrict religious freedoms, and a decision may be affected by U.S. plans for military action against Iraq, U.S. officials tell United Press International.

"Freedom of religion does not exist in Saudi Arabia," said the 2002 Report on International Religious Freedom released Monday by the U.S. State Department.

Okay, I couldn't find the report on Google. But the URL for the 2001 report had 2001 in it and changing that to 2002 and loading that URL produced the 2002 report page on the US State Dept web site - giving me a happy satisfied techie moment. So do go click thru to the report. You can find this in the executive summary:

Saudi Arabia. Freedom of religion does not exist in Saudi Arabia. The Government requires all citizens to be Muslim and prohibits all public manifestations of non-Muslim religions. Islamic practice generally is limited to that of a school of the Sunni branch of Islam as interpreted by Muhammad Ibn Abd Al-Wahhab, an 18th-century Arab religious reformer, and practices contrary to this interpretation are suppressed. Members of the Shi’a minority continued to face institutionalized political and economic discrimination, including restrictions on the practice of their faith, and many Shi’a sheikhs remained in detention.

The Government has stated publicly that it recognizes the right of non-Muslims to worship in private; however, the distinction between public and private worship is not defined clearly, in effect forcing most non-Muslims to worship in a manner such as to avoid discovery. Several Christians were detained for non-Muslim worship and almost always deported after sometimes lengthy periods of arrest, during which some received lashings. The Government refused to permit clergy members to enter the country to conduct non-Muslim religious services, placing groups such as Catholics and Orthodox Christians who must have a priest on a regular basis to practice their faith at a particular disadvantage. Customs officials confiscated or censored materials considered offensive, including Bibles and religious videotapes. In certain areas, both the Mutawwa’in (religious police) and religious vigilantes harassed, assaulted, and detained citizens and foreigners.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2002 October 09 12:22 PM 


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