By Joseph DeCaro, Worthy News Correspondent
RIYADH, SAUDI ARABIA (Worthy News)– Saudi officials have been making conflicting statements as to why 35 Ethiopian Christians were arrested at a prayer service in a private home in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, last December.
In May, a source close to the Saudi ambassador indicated the Christians were arrested as part of an investigation into a human smuggling ring, but this contradicted the original accusation accusing the Christians of an “illicit mingling of genders.”
Shortly thereafter, Sarah Nezamuddin, a representative from the Saudi Embassy, said the Christians had all been arrested for having issues with their work permits, but after International Christian Concern provided a list of the 35 prisoners with legal work permit numbers, Nezamuddin then said that the Christians were actually involved in drug and human trafficking.
Finally, on May 21st, in a meeting with Congressional staff members, representatives from the Saudi government said the 35 Christians had been arrested for visa issues and were also involved in some form of smuggling ring.
“Why haven’t they brought us to court?” one Ethiopian prisoner told ICC. “Why don’t they show us some evidence and bring charges against us? The Saudis are trying to punish us for being Christians by keeping us in prison.”
“I continue to be baffled by the inability of the Saudi government to explain exactly why 35 Christians attending a prayer service at a private home were suddenly arrested almost six months ago,” said Ryan Morgan, ICC’s Advocacy Officer. “The story keeps changing, and it is very troubling to think that a key U.S. ally in the Middle East may be lying to U.S. government officials about why they are arresting religious minorities. I strongly encourage interested individuals to call the Saudi Embassy and express their concern at this alarming turn of events.”