A leading Christian organization in India is seeking the intervention of the nation’s president in the case of an Indian Christian convicted of "spreading Christianity" in the Islamic kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The organization also appealed to Saudi Arabia Wednesday to show mercy, local sources reported.
"[Brian O’Connor]'s arrest and now the sentence of a jail term and lashing have caused deep concern amongst the Christian community in India and the Indian community abroad," All India Catholic Union (AICU) president John Dayal said in a letter addressed to Indian President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam regarding the matter.
O'Connor, an Indian ex-patriot residing in Saudi Arabia, was arrested in March on charges of spreading Christianity. On Wednesday, Oct. 20, he was sentenced to 10 months in prison and 300 lashes, the AICU reported.
"We appeal to the government of India to urgently intercede with the government of Saudi Arabia for the immediate release of [O'Connor]," Dayal said.
The Indo-Asian News Service also reported that the AICU has made an appeal to the king and prime minister of Saudi Arabia Fahd bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud "to generously give clemency to O'Connor."
According to International Christian Concern, charges brought against O’Connor included selling alcohol, possessing pornography, in addition to spreading Christianity. Sources say it is very typical for Saudi authorities to mask their zero-tolerance policy regarding other religions in the heavily Islamic state by presenting false charges in addition to proselytization charges.
Saudi Arabia, which declares Islam as the official language and requires all citizens to be Muslims, prohibits public non-Muslim religious activities. It is reported that those who do not adhere to the officially sanctioned strain of Islam practiced in Saudi Arabia can face “severe repercussions” at the hands of religious police.