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Jailed Indian Christians released after six months in Saudi Arabia

July 30, 2011 by  
Filed under Asia, newsletter-asia, Persecution, Saudi Arabia

Jailed Indian Christians released after six months in Saudi Arabia

Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Two Indian Christians who were arrested in Saudi Arabia recently have arrived back in the country after six months of confinement.

Vasantha Sekhar and Nese Yohan were back in their state on Sunday, fourteen days after Saudi officials released them, according to BosNewsLife.

Members of a Pentecostal congregation, Sekhar and Yohan were arrested and beaten on charges of proselytizing in January, 2011.

Both received 45-days of “pre-trial detention” on charges of attempted Christian conversion. They were later moved from the police station to a central jail in the capital Riyadh.

Local Christians believe the January raid and the arrests that followed were to keep believers from practicing Christianity privately in their home.

During the raid, Saudi authorities reportedly confiscated Bibles, Christian literatures, sound equipments and musical instruments. They also painted verses from Koran on the walls of the apartment

Talking with his pastor back in India, Sekhar said that he was pressured to convert to Islam, but that he had refused. “If I have to die for my God, I will die for him here,” Vara said.

Following his arrest, Vara’s employer returned his passport making it clear that his job was no longer available.

“These two Christians have faced false charges and false evidence,” advocacy director of International Christian Concern (ICC), Logan Maurer, earlier commented.

“The Saudi government continues to engage in an array of severe violations of human rights as part of its repression of freedom of religion,” he noted.

Saudi Arabia has a long history of cracking down on Christians. In 2008, 16 Indian workers were allegedly arrested and then released after three days. In 2010, eight left the country of their own accord and three of the remaining eight were issued deportation orders, according to ICC.

About 7 million foreigners work in Saudi Arabia, of which an estimated 1.5 million are Indian nationals. Workers often face torture, forced confessions and unfair trials when they are accused of crimes.

– christiantoday

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