Saudi Arabia: U.S. Should Take “CPC” Action After Teacher Is Flogged and Jailed For “Praising Jews” And Speaking Of The Gospels
November 18, 2005
by Center for Religious Freedom
Freedom House’s Center for Religious Freedom today called on the U.S. State Department to take action toward Saudi Arabia, as mandated under the International Religious Freedom Act, following reports that Saudi Arabia sentenced a teacher to be flogged and jailed for discussing the Bible and praising Jews in his classroom.
The Act requires the U.S. government to impose sanctions or take other policy actions for countries, like Saudi Arabia, that have been officially designated “Countries of Particular Concern” (CPC) for egregious religious persecution. Saudi Arabia was designated a CPC in 2004 and again this month for 2005. However, in September the State Department waived the policy action requirement for 180 days, stating it would serve the interest of advancing religious freedom.
“The State Department’s recently released annual Report on International Religious Freedom rightly notes that ‘There is no religious freedom in Saudi Arabia,’” said Center Director Nina Shea. In Saudi Arabia, where the Wahhabi school of Islam is the only legal religion, public practice of all other religions, including other sects of Islam, are illegal and severely punished.
On November 13, the Saudi newspaper Al-Madina reported that Mohammad al-Harbi, a teacher in Saudi Arabia, was sentenced to 40 months in jail and 750 lashes for “mocking religion” after he discussed faiths other than Wahhabi Islam in his classroom, according to Reuters.
The newspaper reported that he was charged with advancing a “dubious ideology, mocking religion, saying the Jews were right, discussing the gospel and preventing students from leaving class to wash for prayer.”
“It is well documented that the Saudi regime teaches religious hatred in its public schools,” said Ms. Shea. “In recent months Saudi spokesmen have worked to persuade the West that it has reformed its curriculum and is conducting a campaign to encourage tolerance. We now know the truth: moderate Muslims who teach tolerance are charged with blasphemy crimes and brutally whipped and punished by the Saudi state,” she said. “Withdraw the waiver; it’s time to act.”
In January, Freedom House issued a detailed Report on Saudi textbooks promoting an ideology of hate that were found in prominent sites in America.
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