According to the Saudis, Wahhabist Islam isn't the world's major religious threat. "Christian fundamentalism is no less dangerous to international peace and security than extremists in other religions," the national al-Watan newspaper ridiculously claimed in August. "Rather it is more dangerous, especially if it controls the policy of the United States." The Saudi Gazette chimed in: "The Christian fundamentalists are encouraging American militants to raise a dust of hatred about Saudi Arabia." Saudi Arabia was doing a pretty good job of raising that dust on its own. After all, Osama bin Laden is from the kingdom, as were 15 of the September 11 hijackers. The Saudi royal family funds the madrassas where extreme and violent forms of Islam are taught, and bankrolled part of the Al Qaeda terror network. This isn't the first time Christians have been the Saudis' scapegoat. Officials regularly round up believers, especially those from Ethiopia and Eritrea, beat them, and deport them—all without bringing a single charge (CT, July 8, 2002, p. 34).

Conversion to Christianity remains a capital offense.

Related Elsewhere

Articles referenced above include:

Saudi leader accuses Bush advisersThe Times, London (August 9, 2002)
Saudis lash US 'Christian extremists'—BBC (August 8, 2002)

See our January cover story, Is Islam a Religion of Peace?

Previous Christianity Today articles on religious persecution in Saudi Arabia include:

How to Confront a TheocracyThe most effective way to address the human rights disaster in Saudi Arabia may be to let Muhammad do the talking. (July 3, 2002)
Flogged and DeportedWhat you can do to help persecuted Christians in Saudi Arabia. (May 7, 2002)
U.S. Ally Jails House-Church LeadersMore than a dozen Christians imprisoned in Saudi Arabia since last summer. (November 11, 2001)
Naming NamesWere the State Department's actions on international religious freedom compromised by the war on terrorism? (Nov. 7, 2001)
What Does 09.11.01 Mean for Religious Persecution Policy?Persecution watchdogs fear religious freedom will suffer. (Oct. 10, 2001)
Two Christian Leaders Arrested by Saudi Arabian AuthoritiesJeddah campaign strikes to eliminate house churches. (July 30, 2001)
Four Christians Released By Saudi AuthoritiesOne detained Filipino still waiting for employer's guarantee. (March 6, 2000)
Saudi Arabia Keeps Four Christians Under ArrestWives and children released after two weeks (Jan. 31, 2000)
Riyadh Police Raid Christian Worship ServiceTen adults, five children arrested; engineer still detained from previous arrest. (Jan. 10, 2000)
Christian Engineer Arrested in Saudi ArabiaCharges Against Filipino Termed "Religious-Related." (Dec. 27, 1999)
Arrested Christians Face DeportationPopular Christians meetings lead to house-church raids. (Dec. 6, 1999)
Filipino Christians Released By Saudi AuthoritiesLocal Employees Ordered to Fire and Deport Imprisoned Worshipers" (Nov. 3, 1999)
Two Filipino Christians Beheaded (Sept. 1, 1997)

Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.

Our digital archives are a work in progress. Let us know if corrections need to be made.