Riyadh (AsiaNews) — A Catholic Indian priest was yesterday forced to leave Saudi Arabia. He was discovered by the religious police as he organized a prayer meeting in the lead-up to Easter. Arrested on 5 April, he remained in police custody for four days and on Saturday 8th April he left for India. The practice of any religion other than Islam is forbidden in Saudi Arabia. Meetings held privately in people’s homes, among friends, are also banned.
The priest, Fr George Joshua, belongs to the Malankara rite of Kerala (India). His visit to Catholic Indians in the Saudi Kingdom was planned with his bishop’s permission.
On 5 April, Fr George had just celebrated mass in a private house when seven religious policemen (muttawa) broke into the house together with two ordinary policemen. The police arrested the priest and another person.