It comes of no surprise that Saudi Arabia was listed this week in The U.S. State Department's 2010 International Religious Freedom Report as one of eight countries of particular concern.
The report states that, "Freedom of religion is neither recognized nor protected under Saudi law and is severely restricted in practice."
Christian foreign workers—trying to earn cash to send home to their impoverished families have experienced first-hand the kingdom's lack of religious tolerance. One-hundred foreign workers were arrested by the Mutawa (Saudi religious police) earlier this month. They were charged with participating in forbidden religious activity because they attended a Catholic Mass celebrated by a French priest.
Twelve Filipinos were among those arrested. Released from jail this week, they were handed over to their host employers. Employers sponsor the permits of foreign workers and pay employment agencies to bring them into the country.
Reports have surfaced in recent years suggesting the overseas foreign workers (OFWs) may suffer more abuse from their Middle East employers than they would if they were incarcerated in Saudi jails.
Consider these recent developments:
-- Philippine media reported earlier this fall that four Filipina nurses were gang-raped and beaten in Riyadh. The Philippine Embassy there investigated and concluded the reports were false. Migrante, an alliance of Filipino migrant organizations said the allegations came from Filipino leaders and the Filipino community in Saudi Arabia. Who is telling the truth here? Was a thorough investigation conducted?
-- Migrante, announced last June that seven of 10 overseas foreign workers from the Philippines suffer abuse in the Middle East everyday. Shocking.
-- And the Indonesian government this week demanded that the Saudis investigate the murder of a maid who was killed by her employers. The BBC reports the 36-year-old woman's body was dumped on the side of a road.
Seems like Western countries—hungry for Saudi and Gulf oil—are more than willing to turn a blind eye to many horrific crimes like these committed against Christians and foreign workers.
To learn more about why the U.S. State Department has listed Saudi Arabia as a country of particular concern, click here.
And I found this video on You Tube about the plight of a Filipina foreign worker in Saudi Arabia named Jessica. This is part one of five from a documentary produced in 2008 by the British Films Institute. It's worth a watch.
Click on the video player to view.