Saudi detains dozens for "plotting to celebrate Christmas"

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Al-Akhbar Management

(Photo: Reuters - Larry Downing)

Published Thursday, December 27, 2012

Saudi religious police stormed a house in the Saudi Arabian province of al-Jouf, detaining more than 41 guests for “plotting to celebrate Christmas,” a statement from the police branch released Wednesday night said.

The raid is the latest in a string of religious crackdowns against residents perceived to threaten the country's strict religious code.

The host of the alleged Christmas gathering is reported to be an Asian diplomat whose guests included 41 Christians, as well as two Saudi Arabian and Egyptian Muslims. The host and the two Muslims were said to be “severely intoxicated.”

The guests were said to have been referred to the "respective authorities." It is unclear whether or not they have been released since.

The kingdom, which only recognizes Islamic faith and practice, has in the past banned public Christmas celebrations, but is ambiguous about festivities staged in private quarters.

Saudi religious police are known to detain residents of the kingdom at whim, citing loose interpretations of Sharia and public statements by hardline religious leaders to justify crackdowns.

Saudi Arabia's head mufti Sheikh Abdel Aziz bin Abdullah had previously condemned “invitations to Christmas or wedding celebrations.”

A member of the Higher Council of Islamic scholars in Saudi Arabia, Sheikh Mohammed al-Othaimin recently prohibited sending holiday wishes to "heretics" on Christmas or other religious Christian holidays.

'Apostate' at risk of execution

On Thursday, the Beirut-based Gulf Center for Human Rights reported that Saudi human rights defender Raef Badawi is at risk of execution on apostasy charges.

Badawi is co-founder and editor of the Liberal Saudi Network. When he first appeared before the district court in Jeddah, he was charged with “insulting Islam through electronic channels” and “going beyond the realm of obedience.” The Judge then referred the case to the higher Public Court on an apostasy charge, which carries the penalty of death.

The General Court in Jeddah proceeded with apostasy charges on December 22.

Badawi was arrested this June after the Liberal Saudi Network called for “a day of liberalism” in Saudi Arabia, which included a conference that was later canceled after a warning from authorities.

Earlier this week, controversial Saudi novelist and political analyst Turki al-Hamad was arrested for criticizing Islam and the royal family in a series of tweets.

Al-Hamad is an outspoken liberal who writes about sexuality issues, underground political movements and religious freedom. The offending tweets suggested that Islam be rectified in the same way that the Prophet Muhammad is said to have revised earlier Abrahamic religions.



This is ridiculous. Why are these people acting like morons all the time? Why don't they respect other religions and their beliefs? They aren't interfering into your business, then why people are? Being a Muslim, i really feel ashamed of this. Too bad!!

just as well we don't round up people here for celebrating Ramadan - uber religious assholes don't get into heaven any faster

And the west so happily supports the Saudi while destroyed the liberal iraq and the once liberal iran and Afghanistan.

As I stated before, the world will be very sorry about the 'Arab spring'. Saudi Arabia will never be democratic as long as they insist on religion ruling.

As one of you said, "this is from 58 AD, right?" Well yes it certainly feels like these rules are from way back in history.

I wonder if the execution of these poor 41 Christians (who did nothing else, but practice their faith) will be stoning to death.

Yes exclusion fron the UN would be a great start of world condemnation for Saudi Arabia.

Only poor people get executed in Saudi Arabia. I never heard they executed any American or British or Canadian or ausies.

IN about 1980 a German convicted of trying to rob a bank had one hand and one foot amputated.

As harsh as this penalty is, I do not completely disagree with the punishment - at least there's one less criminal around to endanger law-abiding citizen.
The laxness of moral standards in Western nations is scandalous. Do-gooders and human rights defenders regularly pity the offender while blaming the victim. What kind of Justice is THAT?

I was living in SA when they beheaded a Korean for murder, circa 1977.

Ignorant, greedy politicians and corporations created this monster..and now the world will suffer the consequences..Until we wake up.

They are exporting their radical Wahabbi religion across the globe..and creating more radicals right under our noses..

I know that Christianity will ultimately win..but we will have to pay dearly for our faith..

What needs to "win" is equal human rights, most commonly demonstrated by countries that use (regardless of individual beliefs) secular processes in law. The fact that you see Christianity as "win" clearly demonstrates that you fail to see the irony and hypocrisy you convey.

Your last line is just the mirror image of what the Saudi authorities believe in. Why shd any religion "win"?

Saudis are exporting terrorism ,intolerance hatred to the world & they are not fit in the modern era.

So This is a story from the year 58ad right????

Er no. Islam dates from about 610AD.

I suppose the Saudi will be sentencing all these poor Christians to death and they will soon be executed. I feel very sorry for them. We must ask the Saudi authorities to show some mercy, lets hope the very decent Moslems join in a plea for mercy.

Showing some humanity would be a good start!

Saudi Arabia is a cancer to this World. Most of the terrorists are from Saudi Arabia and most of the rich guys in Saudi Arabia finance terrorism. Saudis openly call to kill Shitis. The only solution to this is to ban Saudi Arabia from U.N and impose sanction.

Unfortunately that may happen only when they run out of oil. Till then the west will appease them and the remainder of the non-Muslim world will tolerate them.



And that kind of sums it up. The difference between Hezbollah's Islam and the perfunctory nature of Salafism is glaring.

I find it ironically painful that some of Hezbollah's most vocal critics pose as uber Christians who ironically happen to be allies with the House of Saud.

Excellent comment - well said

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