In late July Saudi media reported that a Saudi woman named Maryam (28) had illegally both embraced Christianity and fled the country. Her family have charged two men — a Lebanese and a Saudi national — with complicity in her conversion and escape. The men will face court on 15 September. Whilst a woman claiming to be Maryam told an Arabic TV channel that she was converted through a dream and has found peace in Christianity, Saudi media maintain it is all either fraud or coercion. The woman’s family has suggested she is a victim of human traffickers. Interpol is reportedly coordinating with the Saudi Embassy in Stockholm and Swedish authorities to find and return the ‘girl’ before her ‘kidnappers’ can move her to another country. Please pray.
Since late July Saudi media have been buzzing with reports that a 28-year-old Saudi woman has embraced Christianity and fled the country, staying initially in a church in Lebanon before moving on to Sweden. According to the Saudi Gazette, the woman, Maryam, appeared on an Arabic TV channel saying she was tired of performing prayers and fasting during Ramadan — rituals that never brought her any benefit. She also criticised Saudi Arabia’s Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice. She claimed to have been converted through a dream and said that though she was raised to hate Judaism and Christianity she has come to love those religions since finding peace in Christianity.
The woman’s father said his daughter was working in an insurance company in Al-Khobar (in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province) when her boss, a Lebanese Christian man, influenced her and ultimately encouraged her to leave Islam. According to Saudi investigators, a second man, a Saudi national, helped the woman obtain false documents and leave the country. The woman’s family have pressed charges against the two men because apostasy (leaving Islam) is an Islamic capital offence and a Saudi woman is not allowed to get a passport without the permission of her male guardian. The men will face court on Saturday 15 September.
Prosecuting lawyer, Humood Al-Khaldi, said that whilst the penalty in Islam of death for apostasy is clear, ‘the roles played by the two men, the Saudi and Lebanese, in making the girl become Christian should be taken into consideration’. He said ‘the court should make sure first that the girl was coerced into converting to Christianity and fleeing the country’. According to Gulf News, ‘Most Saudis reacting to the Khobar woman saga . . . have been calling for stringent action against the Lebanese and Saudi nationals for their alleged roles in the case, claiming that they were “well aware of the consequences of their act”.’
Domestically, the totalitarian Wahhabist Saudi regime will be keen to perpetuate its lie that Saudi Arabian citizens are 100 percent Muslim and that the land of the two holy mosques could never produce Saudi Arabian Christians! Consequently it will be imperative that the Saudi woman, Maryam, be deemed to have been emotionally unbalanced and coerced and/or kidnapped — anything but a convert. Likewise the Saudi man must be deemed to be an opportunistic criminal — anything but a sympathiser.
Saudi media are sparing no effort to influence public opinion. Whilst initial reports described Maryam as a 28-year-old professional, later reports simply describe her as a ‘girl’. (One article stated she is 17.) According to the Saudi Gazette, Maryam’s conversion was nothing more than that of a ‘girl’ forming an ’emotional attachment to a Christian young man’. In other words, her act was emotional not rational. It also claimed the ‘girl’ rejected Islamic rituals only because she had not been properly taught to understand and appreciate them — her action was based on ignorance, not reason. The Saudi Arabic daily Al Youm claimed Maryan had contacted them, denying she had appeared on television, maintaining she is still a Muslim and requesting help to return home. According to Gulf News, Maryam’s family has suggested she may be ‘a victim of an international organisation trafficking in people’.
On 2 September the Saudi Gazette reported that ‘Interpol is co-ordinating with the Saudi Embassy in Stockholm and Swedish authorities to return the girl to her homeland before her “kidnappers” move her to another country.’ The embassy reportedly has started a search for the woman, with the aid of Swedish authorities.
PLEASE PRAY SPECIFICALLY THAT THE LORD WILL —
– break the chains of fear and darkness that keep the hearts and minds of Saudi Arabs shackled to an Islamic Jesus who cannot save, while the biblical Jesus is waiting to show grace.
– ‘. . . you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’ (John 8:32)
– work powerfully in and through Henna Sarkees, the Lebanese, and his Saudi colleague when they face the court in Al-Khobar on Saturday 15 September. May this trial be redeemed for the glory of the LORD. (Pray through Matthew 10:16-20 and 26-33.)
– protect Maryam from a forced return to Saudi Arabia where, as an apostate, she may well face violent retribution, even death.
To view this RLPB with hyperlinks, visit the Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin blog