27 Christians have been reported from Saudi Arabia for praying and celebrating a church festival. The celebrations were held at a private home, and among the deported were children too.
The people involved were all Lebanese Maronites, who form a majority of Lebanon's Christian population. They were arrested by religious police, who invaded and raided their home in Al Khafij, located on the eastern side of the country.
EWTN News reported that the charges brought against the arrested included 'un-Islamic' prayer. In response, the Christians have explained that neither their celebrations nor their prayers were intended to be an insult to Islamic faith.
The country's primary stats reveal a population of 32.2 million, with a mere 1.4 million Christians. The primary religion is Islam, and the government is organised as a monarchy. In most of these faith related attacks, the main driving force behind the violence is Islamic extremism.
Saudi Arabia has been known for its intolerance towards other faiths in general, and towards Christianity in particular. The country ranks 14th on the Open Doors World Watch List, a ranking of the top 50 countries where persecution of Christians is most intense. Although a law in 2006 permitted Christians in Saudi Arabia to practice their faith in private settings, Open Doors reveals that in reality, Christians in the country are required to keep their beliefs completely secret.
Muslims who convert to other faiths from Islam are subject to the death penalty in the country.
"If not executed by the state, they risk becoming the victim of an honor killing by a family member - leaving Islam is a great disgrace," stated Open Doors.
Premier Christian Radio added that while there are around 5000 members of the religious police in the country, any Muslim could take the law into their hands and enforce the rules themselves. The incidents of such enforcements range from removing a rosary, to full-fledged violent attacks and arrests.