Displaying items by tag: Saudi Arabia
A Saudi women’s rights activist, Loujain al-Hathloul (31), was arrested along with about a dozen other female activists in May 2018. She has been on hunger strike for a week, and on 5 November her health was said to be rapidly worsening. UN experts are calling for her immediate release. She was arrested just weeks before Saudi Arabia lifted a decades-old ban on female drivers, yet she is still in prison. Her deteriorating health was ‘deeply alarming’, said the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). The committee, made up of 23 independent experts, also voiced serious concern ‘by recent information concerning the conditions of Ms al-Hathloul’s prolonged detention, including reports that she is not allowed regular contact with her family’. Some activists arrested with her were provisionally released. Others remain in detention, subjected to waterboarding, sexual harassment, and court trials for contacting media, diplomats and human rights groups.
‘There are no heroes in Yemen, just criminals and victims’, said a human rights investigator. The victims are millions of ordinary Yemenis caught in a protracted proxy war that brought Yemen to its knees and turned it into the world's biggest humanitarian disaster. The lack of easy access to the country for journalists and international monitors means many Yemenis feel, as one doctor put it, that ‘we are screaming in pain, but no one is hearing’. Recently a Sky investigation team travelled hundreds of miles through armed checkpoints and rough terrain to gather testimonies from the victims, witnesses and survivors. Families in Taiz, Yemen’s third-largest municipality and once a cultural epicentre, have experienced some of the fiercest fighting during the six-year civil war between pro-government troops backed by a Saudi-led coalition (supported by the USA and the UK) and Houthi rebels, supported by Iran. Both sides are guilty of grave human rights abuses: see
The Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam that all Muslims must perform at least once in their lifetime if they are able. On the Hajj Muslims seek the forgiveness of sins and to deepen their allegiance to Allah. In Luke 7, Jesus said to a sinful woman, ‘Your sins are forgiven: your faith has saved you; go in peace’. Jesus has the authority and power to forgive all of our sins through his atoning sacrifice on the cross and His resurrection. 1.8 billion Muslims in the world today reject Jesus as a Saviour. Instead, they go on the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia in order to earn forgiveness of sins from Allah. A phrase used in most Arabic conversations is ‘al-ḥamdu li-llāh’ - literally, ‘Praise be to God’. Pray for people to truly know God and praise Him when they use this phrase. See also
Eight armed drones and three ballistic missiles hit Riyadh, the Saudi capital, on 24 June. On 22 June a Saudi-led coalition had announced both sides intended to meet in an attempt to re-establish a 2019 deal that ended earlier fighting. Tensions between the two former allies in Yemen's war has surged after the expiry last month of the six-week ceasefire prompted by the pandemic. The Saudi-led intervention in Yemen has killed tens of thousands of people and pushed the country to the brink of famine. The media reporting on the most recent attack stated, ‘The Houthis said they had hit the Saudi defence ministry and a military base, while a Saudi-led military coalition said it had shot a missile down, making no reference to targets’. The area is currently quiet.
The Lord has moved the hearts of workers in Saudi Arabia and Yemen to have a special prayer focus for the Khawlan people, a tribe with a unique Semitic language living in a region straddling the border between Yemen and Saudi Arabia. During a special prayer gathering in Saudi Arabia for the Khawlan Tribe in October, those present sensed that God was encouraging a call for the global church to join in a five day prayer focus for these unreached people. Would you join in? People can pray at any time, and there will be a special prayer focus for this people group from 14 to 18 February. Click the ‘More’ button for a five-day prayer guide translated into various languages, including English, plus a video.
Human Rights Watch reported on 4 November that important social reforms enacted under Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman have been accompanied by deepening repression and abusive practices meant to silence dissidents and critics. The 62-page report documents ongoing arbitrary and abusive practices by Saudi authorities targeting dissidents and activists since mid-2017 and a total lack of accountability for those responsible for abuses. Despite landmark reforms for Saudi women and youth, ongoing abuses demonstrate that the rule of law remains weak and can be undermined at will by political leadership. The authorities have locked away many leading reformist thinkers and activists. HRW said that detaining citizens for peaceful criticism of the government’s policies or human rights advocacy is not new in Saudi Arabia, but what has made the post-2017 arrest waves notable is the sheer number and range of people targeted over a short period, and new repressive practices.
European countries temporarily halted arms exports to Turkey after its military incursion into Syria. But Europe’s other arms trading partner, Saudi Arabia, has caused deaths or injuries of 18,000 in Yemen, where 24.1 million need humanitarian assistance. Despite these figures, EU countries still have arms deals with the Saudis. The UK only halted arms exports in June after exports licences were found to be unlawful. Saudi Arabia was France's second-biggest weapons client last year: over €1 billion worth, including armoured vehicles used in or near Yemen. Only Spain suspended arms exports to Saudi Arabia, citing ‘use of this type of armament against a civilian population’. Why would EU countries halt arms to Turkey due to conflict, but not to Saudi Arabia for the same reasons? There could be several reasons, but two stand out - business and alliances.
Tensions between powerful Middle East rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran were catapulted to new levels when drones set two Saudi Arabian oil refineries ablaze on 14 September, resulting in halving the Gulf kingdom’s oil output and cutting world crude oil supplies by over 5%. Yemen’s Houthi rebels claimed responsibility, but the US blamed Iran for the attacks, and will now deploy troops to the region, triggering fears of Saudi retaliation. Any escalation would be dangerous for the entire region. The drone strikes follow a recent pattern: oil tankers, infrastructure and transportation hubs have been attacked, with indications that Iran and its network are responsible. The US ‘maximum pressure’ policy has not halted Iran’s uranium development. President Rouhani said Iran would present a new Gulf peace initiative in the coming days. On 23 September Boris Johnson blamed Iran for attacks on Saudi Arabian oil facilities and declined to rule out military intervention or sanctions: see
Jesus has all authority and power to forgive sins through his sacrifice on the cross and his resurrection for those who receive Him by faith. However Muslims reject this mercy and look for forgiveness and an allegiance to Allah by doing a Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca. Muhammad said, ‘Whoever performs Hajj for the sake of Allah and does not utter any obscene speech or do any evil deed will go back (free of sin) as his mother bore him.’ All Muslims must perform the Hajj at least once in their lifetime if they are able; it is one of the five pillars of their faith. On 18 August, three million Muslims from all over the world will flock to Mecca to perform sacred acts and follow the steps of Muhammad, for three days. You are invited to join Christians globally to pray for the millions taking this spiritual journey.
In 2003 the Americans left Saudi Arabia, but now hundreds of American troops will deploy to an airbase outside Riyadh as tensions spike between Iran and its allies and the Trump administration and crown prince Mohammad bin Salman. The deployment of American troops in the kingdom was never popular with Saudis, and comes as their Arab allies desert the crown prince’s war in Yemen. Bringing the Americans back now underscores the king’s deep concern about the regional situation. The American violation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action last year, a move Riyadh encouraged, has set Washington and Tehran on a collision course. Iran cannot allow its oil exports to be curbed by sanctions. The government-controlled Saudi press has openly called for American military action in response to Iranian attacks on oil tankers.