What will Obama say to the Saudis about their persecution of Christians?

by 1389 on March 21, 2014

in 1389 (blog admin), Barack Hussein Obama, Christianity, Saudi Arabia

WSJ: Obama and the Churches of Saudi Arabia

Next week the president visits the Kingdom. He should bring up its harassment of Christians.

By Nina Shea
March 20, 2014 7:56 p.m. ET

When President Obama visits Saudi Arabia next week, he will have an opportunity to follow through on his inspiring words at the Feb. 6. National Prayer Breakfast. There, he told thousands of Christian leaders that “the right of every person to practice their faith how they choose” is central to “human dignity,” and so “promoting religious freedom is a key objective of U.S. foreign policy.”

OBAMA bin LYIN'
How many times has this man lied to us?
Just askin’.

The freedom so central to human dignity is denied by the Kingdom. The State Department has long ranked Saudi Arabia among the world’s most religiously repressive governments, designating it a “Country of Particular Concern” under the International Religious Freedom Act. Yet the Obama administration, like its predecessors, has not pressed Riyadh to respect religious freedom.

Saudi Arabia is the only state in the world to ban all churches and any other non-Muslim houses of worship. While Saudi nationals are all “officially” Muslim, some two to three million foreign Christians live in the kingdom, many for decades. They have no rights to practice their faith. The Saudi government has ignored Vatican appeals for a church to serve this community, despite the fact that in 1973 Pope Paul VI approved a proposal for the Roman city council to donate city lands for a grand mosque in Rome. The mosque, opened in 1995, is among the largest in Europe.

Christian foreign workers in Saudi Arabia can only pray together clandestinely. Religious-police dragnets against scores of Ethiopian house-church Christians, mostly poor women working as maids, demonstrate the perils of worshiping: arrest, monthslong detention and abuse, and eventual deportation. The more fortunate do what I did when I visited three years ago—sneak off to pray in a windowless safe room behind embassy walls.

It’s difficult to hide a worship service in the tightly-controlled kingdom. The Committee to Promote Virtue and Prevent Vice, the religious police, is always looking for women and men mingling together, women who fail to conform to the state-mandated Muslim dress code, and the movements of foreigners. University of Milan Professor Camille Eid, who has worked in Jeddah, reported to the Catholic outlet Zenit in 2011 that he was afraid even to give Christmas or Easter greetings over the phone for fear “someone might be listening.”

Distributing Bibles in Saudi Arabia is illegal. Priests must go undercover, pretending to be cooks or mechanics, to celebrate underground Masses for the estimated 1.5 million Filipino, Indian and other Catholics working or living there. Crosses, rosaries and Christian literature and art must not be publicly displayed. Even the ruins of a fourth-century church in the Persian Gulf city of Jubail are kept off limits to the public and archaeologists.

The fanatical intolerance of everything Christian extends to a crackdown on red roses on Valentine’s Day. Visiting European soccer teams with cross logos must blur the icon on team jerseys. At one holiday party in the American school in Riyadh, a Santa Claus had to jump through a window to escape religious police, according to Mr. Eid’s account.

The official Saudi National Human Rights Commission director Bandar al-Aiban told me that churches are forbidden because the entire country is “a sacred mosque” for Islam’s holiest shrines in Mecca and Medina—two cities completely closed to non-Muslims. He seemed unperturbed that Saudi national borders are a modern invention dating to 1932, not to Prophet Muhammad’s era more than 1,300 years earlier.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 Arius March 22, 2014 at 3:13 am

He’ll say nothing.

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