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Saudis arrest Filipino Catholics at mass—report

First Posted 20:02:00 10/06/2010

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RIYADH, Saudi Arabia - Saudi police raided a secret Catholic mass in Riyadh last week and arrested a dozen Filipinos and a Catholic priest, charging them with prosyletising, a local daily reported on Wednesday.

The raid took place as some 150 Filipinos were attending the mass in a Riyadh rest house on Friday, the second day of the weekend in Saudi Arabia, Arab News said.

The twelve Filipino men and the priest, whose nationality was not specified, were "charged with prosyletising," the daily quoted an official from the Philippine embassy in Riyadh as saying.

They were all released Sunday on guarantees by sponsors or embassies, the report said.

Saudi Arabia bans the practice of any religion aside from Islam. However, small, low-key prayer services inside expatriate compounds and in Filipino gatherings are tolerated by officials.

With more than one million workers in Saudi Arabia, Filipinos comprise the bulk of the Christian community inside the kingdom.

Filipino activists confirmed the arrests to Agence France-Presse, saying they had been released, but could not confirm the arrest of a priest.


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