An Egyptian Christian surgeon is reportedly being detained by the Saudi Arabia government because of his faith, alerted a Washington-based Christian human rights group Wednesday.
Dr. Mamdooh Fahmy, who was working as a surgeon in Saudi Arabia, wrote a letter to International Christian Concern appealing for help to return home to Egypt. His prior attempts to go home for over two years have been futile with the Saudi government refusing to grant him the required exit visa.
The Christian surgeon was working at Albyaan Menfhoh Medical Center in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, before he was removed from his position at the center six months ago, according to ICC. Fahmy has since not been able to obtain another work permit because of his Christian faith.
Harassments targeted at Fahmy began early on when his Muslim colleagues at the medical center in 2004 repeatedly pressured him to become a Muslim. After becoming tired of enduring the taunts, Fahmy told his co-workers that he was a Christian and would not change his religion. In response, the group accused him of being a missionary.
In Fahmy's letter to ICC, the doctor details the maltreatment he underwent because he publicly acknowledged his Christian faith in Saudi Arabia:
"On April 12, 2005, I had a surprised visit from three Saudi officials at work. Two were in civilian attire and one was a police officer. They informed me that they were from the morals policing organization (Muttawa). They proceeded to insult me publicly before the staff and patients of the medical center. They confiscated my wallet, cell phone and keys. They handcuffed me, shacked (sic) my legs and dragged me to a waiting car, then proceeded to my residence."
Fahmy then told how the police officer allowed two civilians to raid his house and confiscate all his written and published materials.
"I was then taken to the police station … where I was formally accused of being a Christian missionary and of consuming alcoholic beverages at work," recalled the persecuted Christian doctor. "I was placed in solitary confinement for five days. After my confinement they began the interrogation process. Each time I was questioned, I was cursed and insulted. The interrogator referred to me as 'Infidel.'"
After his release Fahmy was told that his passport was now in the custody of the police.
The Saudi government has reportedly been leading Fahmy in circles, promising to let him leave the country but in the end blocking his path.
In the latest incident, he was told that all he needed to do to exit the country was file some departure applications after Egyptian officials raised his situation with the Saudi government. Fahmy filed the papers, but not only was the application rejected, but Saudi officials laughed in his face for attempting to leave, according to ICC.
Saudi Arabia is notorious for its religious freedom and human rights abuse. The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, an independent, bipartisan government body established to monitor religious freedom in the world, recommended to the U.S. State Department again this year that Saudi Arabia be designated a Country of Particular Concern – the worst religious freedom violation label.
The State Department has often criticized Saudi Arabia for religious intolerance and human rights abuses including a legal system with punishments such as flogging and amputation.
Christian persecution watch group Open Doors this year listed Saudi Arabia as the world's second worst Christian persecutor behind North Korea.
Moreover, the Saudi government is accused of propagating religious intolerance through its public textbooks, which teach Muslim children to hate all non-Wahhabi Muslims.
"What is being taught today in Saudi public school textbooks about how Muslims should relate to other religious communities will poison the minds of a new generation of Saudis," said Nina Shea, then-director of Freedom House's Center for Religious Freedom, during a news conference about Saudi textbooks earlier this year.
ICC and Fahmy are requesting that people contact the Saudi embassy to inform them of the growing awareness of Saudi Arabia's human rights violation in this case.
Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia, US
601 New Hampshire Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20037
Phone: (202) 342-3800
Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia, Canada
99 Bank Street Suite 901,
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, K1P 6B9
Telephone: (613) 237-4100
Fax: (613) 237-0567
Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia, UK
30 Charles Street, W1J 5DZ
Tel: +44 (0)20 7917 3000