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Saudis arrest, plan to deport Ethiopian Christians

Catholic World News - January 31, 2012

The government of Saudi Arabia plans to deport 35 Ethiopian Christians who were arrested in a raid on a prayer meeting in Jeddah.

The Christians were charged with “illicit mingling”—a term that refers to public meetings involving both men and women. The prayer meeting, held in a private home, would not ordinarily fall under the prohibition against “mingling.” The Saudi government, which bans public worship for all faiths except Islam, had promised not to interfere with religious services held privately, especially by foreigners living in the country.

Human Rights Watch reports that the 35 prisoners were abused while in custody. The women were strip-searched; the men were beaten.

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