A Christian hospital worker in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia was whisked from his home early this morning following a police raid. Seven members of the Muttawa, the Saudi police that enforce the country?s strict observance of Islamic regulations, raided the home of Prabhu Issac at 11:00 P.M. Both Prabhu and his wife, Socilia, were interrogated in separate rooms of their home for 3 ? hours before Prabhu was taken away. They were asked specifically about some group meetings held in their home, including a meeting in June held in their honor at which approximately 400 friends were in attendance. It is believed that Prabhu is being detained at the Farifia Prison near Jeddah under the authority of the Ministry of Interior (MOI). It is believed that Socilia, who was not arrested, is doing fine, but she was strictly told not to have any outside contact.
The Muttawa confiscated Prabhu?s computer, photo albums, Bibles, songbooks, and all his audio cassettes and videotapes. Fellow Christians are concerned that the personal files on Prabhu?s computer may have contained the names and addresses of other Christians who often would meet together in each others? homes to sing and study the Bible. In Saudi Arabia, it is illegal for Christians to gather together to practice their faith. Church buildings are not allowed in Saudi Arabia and nothing relating to the Christian faith may be displayed, including such things as a necklace with a cross or a Bibles. Some Christians have reported that upon entering Saudi Arabia they have had their personal Bibles taken from them and placed into a paper shredder.
Prabhu and his wife are citizens of India. It is estimated that as much as one third of Saudi Arabia?s population of 18 million are foreign nationals who have been hired to fill the many employment needs of the oil-rich empire. Many of these are Christians from India, the Philippines, North Korea and elsewhere. It is estimated that 4% of the population of Saudi Arabia is Christian of which 98% are foreign nationals. The Muttawa are constantly on the lookout for foreigners who are openly practicing their faith, including gathering together for religious purposes other than observing Islam.
In May, after living in Saudi Arabia for more than ten years where Prabhu and his wife were employed at a hospital, Prabhu received notice that his contract was being terminated. His wife?s contract was subsequently terminated. However, the unofficial reason that was circulating in the hospital was that they had become involved in Christian activities. The couple were scheduled to depart Saudi Arabia July 22.
Another Christian, Ernesto Miranda, has been detained since December 8, 2000. Ernesto owned a business in Riyadh and had rented out the upstairs to a group of Christians to use as a meeting place. The Muttawa raided the building and arrested him and several others. While being held in solitary confinement and subjected to threats and beatings, under duress, Ernesto converted to Islam. A guard had told Ernesto that he would be released if he would only convert to Islam. Other formerly detained Christians have also reported being tortured and told that they must convert to Islam. To date, Ernesto has not been released and is still being held in the Malaz Prison in Riyadh .
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