According to a human rights monitor, Saudi Arabian authorities in Jeddah arrested two underground Christian leaders in July. At approximately midnight of July 25, agents of the Ministry of Interior raided the home of the second Christian leader, Ethiopian worker Eskinder Menghis and took him to police headquarters for interrogation, according to Washington, D.C.-based International Christian Concern.

On July 18, authorities arrested Indian hospital worker Prahbu Isaac, who is considered to be a key leader among house churches in Jeddah. Isaac's home also was raided. Personal effects, including his computer, were confiscated. Saudi Arabia prohibits all public expression of religion apart from Muslims who follow the strict Wahabi interpretation within the Hanbali school of Islam, expounded by 18th century Islamic scholar Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab. Saudi officials have publicly stated that non-Muslims may worship in private but many leaders of house groups have been arrested and deported, human rights groups say.

The arrests appear to be part of a campaign to eliminate house churches in Jeddah, according to spokesperson (who asked not to be identified) for the United Churches of Saudi Arabia, an underground network. The group is a network of about 250 house churches consisting almost entirely of expatriate Protestants and Catholics. The spokesperson is an American citizen who became involved in the expatriate churches during two years of employment in Saudi Arabia and now, from the United States, maintains regular contact with colleagues there.

Over the past three years Saudi authorities have arrested house church leaders in Riyadh, the capital, but have left Jeddah alone until now, the United Churches of Saudi Arabia said. According ...

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