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Saudi Arabia

_images_files/content/article_files/Lent_Prayer/2013/4X3/saudi-arabia_4X3.jpg
Mecca in Saudi Arabia is Islam's holiest site
CC BY-SA 2.0 / Al Jazeera English

Muslims who become Christians in Saudi Arabia, one of the most rigid, hardline and authoritarian states in the world, are officially punishable by death. When a Muslim woman gave her life to Jesus Christ in 2012, she fled the country and managed to escape to safety in Sweden. But the authorities detained two of her colleagues, who had helped her, and sentenced them in May 2013. One, a Lebanese man, received a six-year jail term and 300 lashes for helping the woman to become a Christian, and the other, a Saudi, was given two years’ imprisonment and 200 lashes for aiding her escape.

Saudi Arabia makes no provision for religious freedom. Its official religion is Sunni Islam; its constitution is the Quran and the traditions about Muhammad; and its legal system is based on the government’s strict interpretation of sharia. There is no separation of state and religion, and all the country’s citizens must be Muslims. School textbooks, sermons and fatwas promote hatred and violence against Christians and Jews.

Blasphemy, as well as apostasy, officially carries a death sentence. In line with Muhammad’s prohibition of more than one religion in the Arabian Peninsula, the government disallows the public practice of any non-Muslim religion. There are no non-Muslim places of worship in the country, and the small number of Saudi Christians must practise their faith in extreme secrecy. Although expatriate Christians, who are far greater in number, are permitted to worship in private, their meetings may be raided by the mutawaah (religious police), and they may be harassed, detained or deported. The mutawaah ruthlessly enforce restrictions on behaviour, and ordinary citizens may also act as anti-Christian vigilantes.

Saudi Arabia is home to the two holiest Muslim sites, Mecca and Medina, and the Saudi government considers itself the authoritative voice of Islam. It promotes Wahhabism, a strict and puritanical form of Islam, throughout the wider region. There was once a large Christian population, which vanished completely when Islam gained control around 630 AD.

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    • Please pray for Christians in northern Cameroon, where Boko Haram is terrorising people, especially Christians and security forces, just as in neighbouring Nigeria. The Islamist militants openly declare themselves to be Boko Haram, and issue threats by letter, including to pastors telling them they must leave. Two pastors were killed in the village of Assigashia on the night of 25-26 August, hich has caused great distress and consternation. The Cameroonian Christians ask for prayer that God will bring peace and security, that the kidnapped will be released, that believers will stand firm despite being targeted, that God will comfort the traumatised, and that church leaders will know how to prepare their people for persecution. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed 13 hours ago

    • “The cathedral in Damaturu now has only about 40 members instead of 450 members. The church in Potiskum now has only about 15 members instead of 500 members… the southern part of [Yobe state] is still very dangerous and most of the churches here have closed down.” A senior church leader in Nigeria wrote to Barnabas Aid in August about the impact on the Church of Boko Haram’s violence. Nevertheless Christians were still holding worship services every Sunday, discipling the young people and even commissioning pastors. Praise God for such perseverance, and pray that a Christian presence and witness may remain in north-east Nigeria. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Tue, Oct 2014 00:00

    • Heavenly Father, we pray to You for our Christian brothers and sisters in north-eastern Nigeria, who are so vulnerable in the face of attacks by Boko Haram militants. We remember especially those who used to live in Madagali, in Adamawa state, until their town was seized by Boko Haram two months ago. We think of those who were betrayed into the hands of Boko Haram by their neighbours pointing out Christian homes or places where Christians had hidden. We bring before You those who saw their menfolk beheaded, and women forcibly converted to Islam. We cry out to You to intervene and bring an end to the murderous attacks by Boko Haram. We pray for all the thousands of Nigerian Christians who have suffered in similar attacks that they will not lose hope or faith in You, but will know Your peace which passes understanding. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Mon, Oct 2014 00:00

    • Pray for a pastor in the Kilimanjaro region of Tanzania whose home was attacked on 17 May; two of his children were injured. When he went to report the incident to the police, he was falsely accused of raping a young woman who had left Islam to follow Christ. The pastor had taken her into his home, along with four other converts, after she was thrown out by her family; it was they who made the accusation against him. He has faced much opposition because of his fruitful outreach to Muslims, and several failed attempts have been made to frame him with false accusations. Pray that the sovereign Lord will help him and that he will not be disgraced (Isaiah 50:7-9). Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Sun, Oct 2014 00:00

    • A church on Mafia Island, part of the Zanzibar archipelago, was attacked on 9 May by around 80 young Muslim men armed with arrows and knives. The church members, who are mainly converts from Islam, had gathered for their weekly overnight prayer session when the attackers appeared, shouting “death to ritad’i” (those who leave Islam). They set fi re to the church, leaving the interior in ruins, and then went in search of the pastor, but he was not at home. The incident followed a bomb blast at another church in Mwanza in mainland Tanzania on 5 May, in which a worker at the church rest house was critically injured. Pray that the authorities will effectively address the increasing incidence of attacks against churches. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Sat, Oct 2014 00:00

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