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January 4, 2013 4:00 pm

Saudi Police Detain Dozens for ‘Plotting’ to Celebrate Christmas

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A Saudi police officer stands in front of a mural of King Abdullah in Riyadh. Photo: FP

Saudi religious police detained stormed a house in the province of al-Jouf and detained more than 41 guests for “plotting to celebrate Christmas” according to the Lebanese daily Al-Akhbar.

Reports indicate that the alleged Christmas gathering took place at the home of an Asian diplomat that included 41 Christians and two Muslims. All were said to be “severely intoxicated,” according to the police statement.

It is unclear whether or not they have been released since their arrest. Saudi religious police are known to arrest people on a “whim” for violating Sharia law, Al-Akhbar noted.

While Christians resided in modern day Saudi Arabia in antiquity and the early Islamic era, today nearly all of Christians living in Saudi Arabia are western expats and foreign workers primarily from Africa and Asia, who are prevented from obtaining citizenship. Saudi Arabia also does not permit these Christians to practice their faith openly, including bringing non-Islamic religious materials such as copies of the Bible from abroad.

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