Atheists and others who criticize the government or Islam are now categorized along with terrorists, according to new Saudi terrorism laws.
According to a report by Human Right Watch (HRW), citizens who commit “thought” crimes are classified along with terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda’s Yemen branch and Saudi Hezbollah.
The decree by King Abdullah will jail for up to 20 years anyone who fights in conflicts abroad. While this is aimed at deterring Saudis from joining rebels in Syria, the law also covers any Saudi citizen or foreigner residing in the kingdom who ‘calls for atheist thought in any form or calls into question the fundamentals of the Islamic religion on which this country is based’ (Independent newspaper).
Al Qaeda’s Yemen branch have dismissed the measures which they said would not deter its fighters.
This February, Saudi Arabia announced harsher punishments for Saudis who join Islamist militant groups abroad. In March the interior ministry designated a number of groups, including the Muslim Brotherhood, as terrorist organizations.
Saudi Arabia has many extremists. The Saudi government is combating terrorism on a national level because of the threat to the royal family. However, the country itself funds terrorism outside its borders. This is the main source of Sunni terrorism in the world, according to US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton in 2010 (BBC).
Saudi Arabia ranks sixth on the Open Doors World Watch List of the 50 worst countries that persecute Christians.
There is no freedom of religion in Saudi Arabia. Pray that Saudis and expatriate workers are exposed to Christian satellite TV programs (The Bible, 2 Peter 3:9).
Pray for the Saudi government to loosen its control on use of the internet. Internet access enables locals to get access to Christian materials (The Bible, Mark 13:10).
It is legal to murder a Muslim who converts to Christianity. Pray for the small number of Saudi Christian Believers to multiply exponentially. Pray for protection as Saudi Christians boldly share their faith (The Bible, Psalm 5:11).