“The Saudi authorities cite a tradition of the Prophet Muhammad that only Islam can be practised in the Arabian Peninsula….” And that’s why the plight of Christians in Saudi Arabia will not change.
Here, by the way, is that tradition.
“Historic Saudi visit to Vatican,” from the BBC (thanks to all who sent this in):
King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia has met Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican – the first audience by the head of the Roman Catholic Church with a Saudi monarch.
The Vatican described the private meeting as “warm” and said the two men discussed the presence and hard work of Christians in Saudi Arabia.
An estimated 1.5m Christians live in Saudi Arabia but are not allowed to worship publicly.
The Vatican said Abdullah requested the audience as part of a European tour.
The two sides have no diplomatic ties, although when Abdullah was crown prince he met the late Pope John Paul II.
Correspondents say the visit comes as relations between the Vatican and the Muslim world are improving, more than a year after the crisis caused by a papal speech appearing to associate Islam with violence….
Oh horror! He appeared to associate Islam with violence! Muslims do that every day, of course, and…where are the protests?
The Vatican said the talks allowed a wide discussion on the need for religious and cultural dialogue among Christians, Muslims and Jews “for the promotion of peace, justice and spiritual and moral values, especially in support of the family.”
Both sides also emphasised the need for a “just solution” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Vatican said.
About a million Catholics, many of them migrant workers from the Philippines, live in the conservative desert kingdom, which is the home of Islam’s holiest shrines.
They are allowed to worship in private, mostly in people’s homes, but worship in public places and outward signs of faith, such as crucifixes, are forbidden.
Christians complain that rules are not clear and hardline Muslim authorities sometimes crack down on legitimate congregations.
“The most important thing is to get the possibility to gather in freedom and security for our worship, our masses and our activities,” said Bishop Paul Hinder, responsible for Catholics in Arabia, in an interview with Reuters news agency.
The Saudi authorities cite a tradition of the Prophet Muhammad that only Islam can be practised in the Arabian Peninsula….