Saudi Blogger Detained for Recording Conversion to Christianity

A 28-year-old blogger who recorded his conversion from Islam to Christianity has been detained by authorities in Saudi Arabia.

Hamoud Bin Saleh was arrested last month, according to International Christian Concern (ICC), and detained at Eleisha political prison in Riyadh for expressing his views on Islam in his blog "Masihi Saudi"

The arrest came just five months after the killing of a Saudi official's daughter who converted to Christianity. She was burnt to death by her father who cut her tongue after learning of her Christian faith, which blossomed through the internet.

According to ICC, Bin Saleh, who was arrested in November 2008, was released by the government, during the Saudi-initiated interfaith dialogue held at the United Nations in New York. However, after the conference, the officials chose to re-arrest Bin Saleh because "the entire world is busy following up on the aggression on Gaza, and the Saudi authorities may seize the chance to make an example with nobody watching."

Bin Saleh's blog, which has been blocked by the Saudi authorities, contained his spiritual walk and Christian faith after witnessing the public beheading of three Pakistanis convicted of drug charges.

"I was convinced that the wretched Pakistanis were executed in accordance with the Muhammadan laws just because they are poor and have no money or favored positions, which they had no control or power over," he wrote.

"My mind was persistently raising questions and desperately seeking answers. I went on vacations to read about comparative religion, and I got the Bible, and I used to give these books to anyone before going back to Saudi, as going back there with such books is considered an unforgivable crime which will throw its perpetrator in a dark jail."

It was the life of Jesus that inspired Bin Saleh to convert to Christianity. The story of Jesus forgiving a woman condemned for adultery drew him closer to the Bible.

"Jesus ... took us beyond physical salvation as he offered us forgiveness that is the salvation of eternal life and compassion," he wrote.

Saudi Arabia has been criticized for its oppression of religious and political minorities. Freedom of speech and the press are restricted to forbid criticism of the government or endorsement of "un-Islamic" values.

Islam is the official religion. The government prohibits the public practice of other religions in the kingdom.

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