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Saudi Arabian convert at risk in Sweden

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Saudi Arabian convert at risk in Sweden

If a 2 September report in the Saudi Gazette is true, then it may well be the first time Interpol as been abused by an Islamic State for the purpose of retrieving an apostate.

On 28 July 2012, the Saudi Gazette reported: “A Saudi girl who recently embraced Christianity and fled the country for refuge in Lebanon told the host of a religious program on an Arabic TV channel that she was tired of performing prayers and fasting during Ramadan.

“The girl, who said her name was Maryam, said praying and fasting did not bring her any benefits. She also criticized the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice (Hai’a) and claimed that she was raised to hate Judaism and Christianity but fell in love with the religions after she found peace in Christianity.

“She said she became a Christian after she had a dream one night. In it, she climbed to the skies and heard God telling her that Jesus is His son.”

According to reports, Maryam (28), was working in an insurance firm in Al-Khobar when she became interested in Christianity through the influence of her Christian boss, Lebanese expatriate Henna Sarkees (50). An unnamed male Saudi national with links to the firm then secured false travel documents that allowed Maryam to leave the country for Lebanon, then for Sweden.

Henna Sarkees and the unnamed Saudi national will stand trial on Saturday 15 September in Al-Khobar, in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province. Maryam’s family have charged the two men with coercing Maryam into converting to Christianity and then helping her leave the country without the consent of her male guardian. They have suggested it may all be part of a conspiracy to get their daughter into the hands of international people-traffickers.

Saudi media asserts that Maryam regrets her conversion, maintains she is still Muslim, denies ever talking to Arabic TV, desires to return home and accuses Christians of taking her to Sweden against her will.

On 2 September, the following news report appeared in the Saudi Gazette: (copied in full, emphasis mine)

Efforts on to bring back ‘Al-Khobar girl’ from Sweden
Sunday, September 02, 2012

AL-KHOBAR —The Al-Khobar girl who fled the Kingdom after allegedly converting to Christianity will be brought home from Sweden in a matter of few days, Al-Yaum newspaper reported Saturday quoting informed sources.

The Interpol is coordinating 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 sources said.

The girl’s father received phone calls from unknown people who threatened to kill his daughter or move her to another European country if the main suspect in her case, a Lebanese man named Henna Sarkess, was not released from jail in the Kingdom.

Sources said it is highly likely that a global human trafficking network was involved in the kidnapping of the girl, who was persuaded by her Lebanese manager to embrace Christianity and leave the country without the knowledge of her family.

A Saudi was arrested for faking a travel permit, which the girl used to leave the Kingdom and go to Lebanon. There, she stayed with a Christian group inside a church for a while. When she told the group that she wanted to return to the Kingdom and that she regretted what she had done, the group decided to take her to Sweden because it did not want her to return to the Kingdom.

The girl’s father has called upon the authorities to help him bring back his daughter. He said his daughter still talks to them over the phone and she is currently in Sweden. The father is worried that his daughter might get brainwashed.

The Saudi Embassy in Stockholm said it received a letter from the girl’s father requesting it to help her return to the Kingdom. The [Saudi] embassy has started a search with the Swedish authorities.

FITNA

As I said in my opening remarks, if the 2 Sept 2012 report in the Saudi Gazette is true, then it may well be the first time Interpol has been abused by an Islamic State for the purpose of retrieving an apostate.

In the past, Islamic states have generally been content to let apostates flee, for at least then they are not be around to spread fitna (temptation / doubt) amongst the locals. However, in these days of global communications — satellite TV, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter etc — the apostate can generate far more fitna from a safe-haven in the West than they ever could at home. And “fitna is worse than killing”. (Qur’an Sura 2:191)

Christian advocacy groups that have excelled at speaking into political power must quickly learn how to speak into international law enforcement so that Interpol or national police forces do not become unwitting extensions of Islamic religious police.

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Elizabeth Kendal is an international religious liberty analyst and advocate. This prayer bulletin was initially written for the Australian Evangelical Alliance Religious Liberty Commission

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