Forty Christians Arrested in Saudi Arabia after Raid

Forty foreign Christians were arrested for proselytizing after police raided a clandestine church in Saudi Arabia's suburban Riyadh, reports stated last week.

Lt. Col. Saad al-Rashud, who heads a wide-ranging security campaign in the capital, told the Associated Press that the believers' meeting place, which displayed crosses, was run by a Pakistani who led prayers, heard confessions, distributed Communion and claimed to heal the sick.

Convictions could result in harsh prison sentences, followed by deportation, AP reported.

With a legal system based on Islamic law (Shari'a), the Saudi Arabian Government does not provide legal protection for freedom of religion, and such protection does not exist in practice. Islam is the official religion, and the law requires that all citizens be Muslims. The Government prohibits the public practice of non-Muslim religions.

Although the Government recognizes the right of non-Muslims to worship in private, it does not always respect this right in practice and does not define this right in law.