Saudi Arabia (MNN) — Mystery surrounds “Brother A,” whose name is withheld for security purposes. Persecution watchdogs expected courts in Saudi Arabia to release a verdict on his case last week, but so far? Nothing.
Todd Nettleton, spokesman for The Voice of the Martyrs USA, says the silence might not be a bad thing.
“Sometimes, for the sake of justice and for the sake of the judge being free to make the right decision without pressure, it’s better if a case is sort of ‘under the radar’ of the international community,” he explains.
“The world will say, ‘hey, you can’t sentence a Christian to prison just for being a Christian.’ But within his country, devout Muslims will say, ‘you have to sentence this person who has left Islam, you have to sentence this apostate.’ It’s hard to know if this is one of those situations [because] we don’t know a lot of details.”
Brother A stands accused of converting Muslims to Christianity. He was cleared of previous theft charges in April.
“Our friends at Middle East Concern have been covering this case, but they aren’t releasing a lot of details,” Nettleton says.
“He has been flogged, he has been locked in prison, so he has already faced a great deal of pressure and persecution. And now, potentially, he’s on the cusp of being sent back to prison.”
Brother A’s family is in danger, too.
“His wife has been pressured to divorce him. Her family has taken her, at different points, away from Brother A. There is a prayer request for her and their son because what happens to Brother A will have a direct impact on them,” Nettleton says.
Understanding the severity of Brother A’s case requires context, he continues. “There are a couple of significant things to understand,” Nettleton says.
“First, he’s not a foreigner living in Saudi Arabia; he is an Arab, and he has lived in Saudi Arabia his whole life. Saudi Arabia recognizes the right for Saudi Arabs only to be Sunni Muslim; there’s no option of being a Christian [or] a Shia [Muslim]. If you are a Saudi Arab, you’re supposed to be a Sunni Muslim.”
Secondly, Nettleton continues, “he was instrumental in his sister coming to faith in Christ as well, and Brother A has faced pressure from the extended family.”
How can we help?
Ask the Lord to comfort Brother A, give him peace, and protect his family. Pray Brother A will not receive the death penalty and that the Lord will also spare him from a severe prison sentence.
“It is not clear in the reporting exactly what the sentence is. It doesn’t at this point mention the death penalty, but at the very least, he is facing a long prison sentence,” Nettleton says.
“There are many within Islam who would say, ‘Someone who has left Islam is an apostate. They should be given the opportunity to return to Islam, and if they choose not to, they should be executed.’”
Header image is a representative stock photo courtesy of Bill Oxford/Unsplash.