Saudi Arabia declares destruction of all churches in region
Mecca (Images courtesy Wikipedia)
Saudi Arabia (MNN) ¯ Earlier this month news reports surfaced out of Saudi Arabia that raised the red flag for Christians.
Todd Nettleton, a spokesman for the Voice of the Martyrs USA, says, “The Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia–the top Islamic official in the country of Saudi Arabia–has declared that it is “necessary to destroy all the churches of the region.'” Nettleton goes on to note that the report hasn’t surfaced anywhere except on the Council on Foreign Relations Web site, which was then picked up by The Atlantic.
Ranked second on the Open Doors World Watch List (a compilation of the 50 countries where persecution of Christians is the most severe), the news is not really a surprise. There is no provision for religious freedom in the constitution of this Islamic kingdom.
All citizens must adhere to Islam, and conversion to another religion is punishable by death. Public Christian worship is forbidden; worshipers risk imprisonment, lashing, deportation, and torture. Evangelizing Muslims and distributing non-Islamic materials is illegal. Muslims who convert to Christianity risk honor killings and foreign Christian workers have been exposed to abuse from employers.
Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah, the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia, created an implication with his assertion. Nettleton explains, “This was in a meeting with Kuwaiti officials who came to Saudi Arabia. They were asking this Islamic official ‘What should we do about the churches?’ His statement was, ‘There should be no Christian churches on the Arabian peninsula.'”
According to the report, the delegation wanted to confirm Sharia’s position on churches. Essentially, Nettleton says, “If you have churches in Kuwait, which they do, they should be destroyed. The interesting thing about this is that there are no churches in Saudi Arabia. There are no church buildings that are allowed to exist there. So he clearly wasn’t talking only for his own country: he was trying to export this ideology to the surrounding countries.”
This proclamation could affect churches in Kuwait, Oman, Yemen, Bahrain, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates. Nettleton observes that “in most of these countries, we’re not talking about a lot of churches; we’re talking about a few that are allowed to exist primarily to serve foreigners that are living in that country.”