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We get an update on the Pakistani Christians held in Saudi Arabia

By May 5, 2005

Saudi Arabia (MNN) — Nearly two weeks ago 40 Pakistani Christians were arrested in a raid on a house church in Saudi Arabia. Now, human-rights monitors and lawmakers have criticized the Bush administration for not penalizing the Saudi government after the State Department in September designated the kingdom a “Country of Particular Concern” under the International Religious Freedom Act. The 1998 statute gave the State Department the authority to officially single out “nations guilty of particularly severe violations of religious freedom.”

VOM Todd Nettleton says Saudi Arabia isn’t friendly to Christians. “Saudi Arabia is a county where no Saudi citizen is allowed them to identify themselves as a Christian. And, there are no church buildings allowed, even foreign worshipers are subject to being raided and arrested by the religious police.”

Nettleton says American Christians probably wouldn’t face harsh treatment, “(But) because they are Pakistanis they could face a long period of time in jail. We’ve seen people from less powerful countries than America have been held from long periods of time and in one case sentenced to die.”

While this country is oppressive to Christians, Voice of the Martyrs is beaming in Christian radio programs and providing Christian literature to those underground, says Nettleton. “Our goal, really, at Voice of the Martyrs, is to stand with local believers. And, we know there are believers in Saudi Arabia. We know there are Saudi believers who are carrying out the Gospel there in their own country. And so, we want to do whatever we can to be of assistance to them and help them as they’re building the church there.”

Nettleton is asking Christians to contact the representatives to protest this human rights abuse, which could draw international pressure and force their release. “As we are sending those letters and communicating that way, we can affect a change in the policy of the country of Saudi Arabia, at least in this particular case.”

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