Prince intervenes to release two Christians
in Saudi Arabia detained for "no good reason"

Middle East Concern
PRESS RELEASE - 26 November 2003


Middle East Concern
PRESS RELEASE - 26 November 2003


Two Egyptian Christians arrested in Riyadh on 25th October were
released on Thursday 13th November and allowed to remain in the
capital. Mr. Sabry Awad Gayed and Mr. Eskander Guirguis
Eskandar were accused of evangelising non-Christians and of
opening a new place of non-Muslim worship. The intervention of
Prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud brought about their release
after the authorities produced no evidence to substantiate the
allegations against them. They were well treated throughout their
detention.

The Prince serves as the Second Deputy Prime Minister and
Minister of Defence. He became involved when he received a letter
from a church member stating that they had been arrested for no
good reason. He personally reviewed their case and his order that
they be released was implemented nine days later. The Prince was
quoted recently by the Saudi Press Authority as saying, "We say to
Christians: do whatever you want, you and your family, in your
home, worship what you want, but there has not been, or will not be,
a Church."

Mr. Gayed works as a paediatrician and has been in Saudi Arabia
for four years. Mr. Eskandar is a carpenter. Together they lead
worship services in a home for fellow Arab Christians from Egypt
and elsewhere. When arrested they had their Bibles with them
which they explained to be their private Bibles.

Saudi Arabia has no public religious freedom except for the official
state religion, but does allow the private practice of religion in
homes. The actions of the two Egyptians were consistent with this.
The authorities produced no evidence to support the accusations
made.

The Christian meeting held in their home was investigated two
years ago. However it was left alone because all 150 people present
were Christians.

According to Compass Direct, Mr. Gayed's wife, Dr. Salwa Khalil,
was able to speak to her husband from Egypt each day of his
detention. She reported that the two men were treated "in a
respectful way" by the police. The couple have two young
daughters.

For further details please contact Middle East Concern:

Phone: +44-1509-239400
Fax: +44-870-134-8312
Email: Office@MEConcern.org

MEC is a co-operative effort by concerned Christians in the Middle
East focusing on the need for Middle Eastern authorities to ensure
the rights of all who choose to call themselves Christian

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