Indians traveling to Saudi Arabia have been warned not to carry religious scriptures, photographs or icons, local news agencies reported this week.
An official statement issued Wednesday in India that religious activities in private residences or undertaking missionary or preaching activities are banned in Saudi Arabia and could invite stringent punishment, according to the Indo-Asia News
C.R. Banswal, principal secretary to the Andhra Pradesh government, says the Indian ambassador in Riyadh had said that detention cases of Indian nationals on allegations of involvement in religious activities in that country were increasing. The statement says the Saudi religious police recently arrested nine Indians for preaching Christianity.
"[The ambassador] has therefore expressed the view that it is urgent and important that all Indian nationals be forewarned prior to their departure from India against carrying any religious scripture, photographs or [icons] with them to Saudi Arabia," the statement declared.
The ambassador said Indian nationals should also be strictly briefed against organizing group religious activities in private residences or undertaking missionary or preaching activity.
"This would be a major preventive measure in promoting the welfare of the Indian nationals in Saudi Arabia," the statement added.
Currently, Saudi Arabia is ranked second, behind North Korea, on Open Door's annual World Watch List of countries where Christians are persecuted most.