Saudi Arabia Continues Crackdown on Christians

Press Release - July 19, 2001

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. last
night. 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

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 .

International Christian Concern is calling on Americans to protest the
arrest of Prabhu Issac by phoning their representatives in Washington and by
writing, calling or faxing the Ambassador of the Kingdom Saudi of Arabia.
His address is:

Prince Bandor Bin Sultan
Embassy of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
601 New Hampshire Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20037
Telephone: 202-342-3800
Fax: 202-944-5983

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