Displaying items by tag: Saudi Arabia
During a three-day visit to the UK Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, has vowed to promote religious freedom. He said this at an hour-long private meeting with the Archbishop of Canterbury on 8 March. Justin Welby described the crown prince as 'cordial and honest' and a statement from Lambeth Palace said the prince had 'made a strong commitment to promote the flourishing of those of different faith traditions and to interfaith dialogue within the kingdom and beyond'. 32-year-old Mohammed bin Salman, considered the presumptive heir to 82-year-old King Salman, is seeking to promote new reforms for Saudi Arabia. During the discussion the Archbishop pressed concerns over restrictions on Christian worship in Saudi Arabia, where converting away from Islam is punishable by death and non-Islamic places of worship are banned.
Iran’s regional activities have stretched its capacity, its economy is already in difficulty, and while President Trump has said he will renew the sanction waivers one last time, a collapse of the nuclear enrichment agreement would cause severe problems. It is not known who might replace the ailing Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, in the near future. In Saudi Arabia Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman is assuming greater power while preparing to become king. He has liberal policies on economic reforms, and some foresee possible attempts to prevent his coronation. When Kurds voted for independence Iraq experienced political chaos, and challenges remain as they prepare to elect a new parliament in May. Meanwhile Christian villages are being freed from jihadists and the faithfulness of the region’s church is causing Muslims, disillusioned by violence perpetrated in the name of religion, to walk the path of peace and reconciliation.
There is huge power in the words we speak. The ambitious crown prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia called Iran's supreme leader ‘the Hitler of the Middle East.’ An Iranian foreign ministry spokesman accused the ‘adventurist’ prince of ‘immature, inconsiderate, and baseless remarks and behaviour.’ Rivals for control of the Middle East, Shi'ite Iran and Sunni Saudi Arabia are presently engaged in proxy wars in Yemen, Iraq, and Syria. Kim Jong-Un’s ballistic bluster and President Trump’s ‘fire and fury’ has created more tension in Asia, while Pope Francis was cautioned not to utter the word ‘Rohingya’ in Myanmar. We are asked to pray for the world's leaders to understand fully the power that their words have to hurt or to build up, to cause conflict or to ease tension. May they heed the advice of many seasoned and wise counsellors.
Is a Door Opening for Christianity in Saudi Arabia?
(Worthy News) - Stunning political developments in Saudi Arabia have some wondering if the strict Muslim-ruled Kingdom could become more tolerant of Christianity.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman has said he intends to return Saudi Arabia to "moderate Islam" and open the country to all faiths.
As part of his reform drive, dozens of officials – including 11 princes – have been arrested on corruption charges. The kingdom also says it has dismissed several thousand imams from mosques for spreading extremism.
The percentage of Saudi Arabian citizens who are Christians today is officially zero, because conversion from Islam to Christianity has long been punishable by death.
But it's estimated that between four and five percent of the population is Christian – mostly guest workers who are not allowed to worship openly.
Some are hopeful that change is coming.
"The days of a religious monopoly in Saudi Arabia are over," says Christian Palestinian journalist Daoud Kuttab to Christianity Today, "No more pushing Islam down every citizen's throat."
Andrea Zaki, president of the Protestant Churches of Egypt, said of the reform promises, "I hope it will lead Saudi Arabia and the region to a more open society."
But time will tell whether Prince Mohammed can bring real reform and religious pluralism to a nation that has known little to none of it since its founding.
A Saudi-led coalition backing Yemen's government will not allow rebel-controlled air and sea ports to reopen until a better system is created to prevent weapons being smuggled from Iran. The coalition tightened its two-year blockade after a ballistic missile was fired at Riyadh airport. Iran denied arming Houthi rebels, and said the missile launch was ‘an independent action’ in response to coalition ‘aggression’. 2,000+ have died since April from cholera, and 3,500 cases are being treated daily. The blockade will undo efforts to curtail its spread. 27,000 children a month are treated for severe and acute malnutrition. With no aid deliveries, nutrition supplies will run out within two months, affecting the treatment of 400,000 children over the coming year. The children will bear the scars of this conflict long into the future. Civilians are the only people paying the price for political wrangling.
Saudi Arabia is one of the most unreached nations in the world. A partnership between Windows International, Saudi Advocacy Network and Pray for Saudi has designated 23 September as the international Saudi Global Day of Prayer. The group are dedicated to reaching Saudis for Christ, and know that prayer plays a crucial role. They are inviting Christians and prayer groups across the nations to unite and participate in a thirty-minute prayer slot. The vision is a circle of prayer from around the globe praying for Jesus to reach into the hearts of many Saudis and bring them to salvation. There will be live prayer times broadcast from different locations across continents. Resources and more information can be found by clicking the ‘More’ link.
Mujtaba al-Sweikat, a Saudi Arabian young man, was accepted as a student at Western Michigan University, but is now facing imminent beheading in his home country for participation in pro-democracy protests. He was arrested and charged in 2012 at a Saudi airport on his way to the USA. He has been held since then and his execution sentence was given recently. Thirteen other minority Shi’ites are facing the same fate. After the recent sentencing, Mujtaba and the others were transferred to a prison in Riyadh where Saudi Arabia routinely carries out its executions. Many human rights groups and a large US teachers’ union are becoming involved, calling on President Trump to intervene. We can praise God that it is getting news coverage and drawing international attention because it involves a potential American student, but this is normal behaviour in Saudi Arabia.
The think-tank Henry Jackson Society has reported a 'clear and growing link' between Islamist organisations preaching violence in the UK and foreign state funding. It has called for a public inquiry into extremism bankrolled by several Gulf States. Saudi Arabia and Iran are responsible for much of the foreign funding of extremism in the UK; Saudi Arabia has spent millions on exporting its conservative Wahhabi Islam to Muslim communities since the 1960s. Funding takes the form of endowments to mosques and Islamic educational institutions which host radical preachers and distribute extremist literature. Running parallel with this is the fact that the Saudis are one of the main buyers of UK-made arms, with the UK Government approving £3.5bn-worth of arms exports licences to the Gulf state recently and British ministers cultivating trading relationships as the UK looks for post-Brexit trading partners.
Qatar has vowed it will not surrender its foreign policy in an escalating row with other Arab states over its alleged connections to extremism, which it denies. Its foreign minister has said he favours diplomacy to resolve the crisis, and that there is no military solution. Meanwhile, Qatar's Al Jazeera network said it was suffering a cyber-attack; it has been in the crosshairs in the current dispute, and other Gulf countries blocked it in May. There were also reports of hacking attempts on Qatar’s state-run TV station. Saudi Arabia and other states cut travel and diplomatic links with the country on 5 June. The emir of Kuwait is trying to mediate the row, carrying out shuttle diplomacy between Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
Suicide bombers and gunmen attacked the Iranian parliament and Ayatollah Khomeini's mausoleum in Tehran on 7 June, killing at least 13 people. IS claimed responsibility, and threatened more attacks against Iran’s majority Shi'ite population. Iran's Revolutionary Guards blame their regional rival Saudi Arabia. Sunni Saudi Arabia denied any involvement in the attacks, but the assault further fuels tensions between Riyadh and Tehran as they vie for control of the Gulf and influence in the wider Islamic world. The attack happened one week after the meeting between Donald Trump and the Saudi leaders (who support terrorists). Trump said that he prayed for the attack victims but added, ‘States that sponsor terrorism risk falling victim to the evil they promote.’