Arrests of Christian Worshipers in Saudi Arabia - Sentencing Includes 150 lashes for 'Participating in Religious Activities.'


WASHINGTON, DC (ANS) - - Two Filipino Christians were quietly whisked away from their homes near Jeddah early Wednesday morning, April 10, according to the Washington, DC based human rights organization, International Christian Concern (ICC).

The two detained Filipino Christians are Benjamin P. Diaz and Danilo L. de Guzman. Steven Snyder, president of ICC said, "Ten days had passed before we even learned of their detention. Many Christian foreign nationals in Saudi Arabia are afraid to even pray together. They are becoming increasingly fearful of meeting together - and that is exactly what the Saudi government hopes to accomplish. Terrorism of Christians is a real fact of life in Saudi Arabia." Benjamin and Danilo, both new to the Christian faith, were previously arrested a year ago on April 1, 2001. They were released three days later after suffering beatings while in police custody. Following a number of appearances in court, a lower court ruled that the two men would be flogged, each receiving 75 lashes. However, their case was sent to a higher court, which ruled that instead of the 75 lashes they would each receive 150 lashes and then deported. A representative from Resource Sciences Arabia, Ltd., Benjamin and Danilo's employer, along with the company's Saudi representative, Mr. M. Al Anazi, met with the two Christian men at the Abqaiq police station shortly after they were last arrested. The two visitors were told that the prisoners would be transferred to the Abqaiq general prison where they would be detained for 30 days and then deported. It is not known if the men have received visits from their embassy consular. ICC is concerned about the fate of the two men should the earlier sentence of the 150 lashes be administered and should the two men be imprisoned for longer than the stated 30 days. At the police station, the prisoner's two visitors inquired as to whether the men would be allowed to return to Saudi Arabia. The unidentified official curtly replied, "No, for sure they can never come back." When the official was asked by the men's employer if they could obtain a copy of the report that describes the charges and what sentence or judgments would be handed down to them, the reply was again curt: "No, we don't issue papers." ICC is urging the American public to protest the arrest and flogging of the two Christians by contacting their representatives in Washington and calling the Embassy of Saudi Arabia at: 202-342-3800.

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