A Christian guest worker from India, who was tortured and jailed for allegedly “spreading Christianity” in the strict Islamic kingdom of Saudi Arabia, was released recently by Saudi officials. According to a Washington, DC-based human rights group, 36-year old Brian O’Connor was scheduled to fly out of Bombay on Monday, Nov. 1.
International Concern (ICC), which first reported on O’Connor’s arrest and subsequent torture by the Saudi religious police in March, was informed over the weekend of O’Connor’s release.
“Brian's release highlights the power of advocacy and we thank all the individuals that made calls on his behalf to the Saudi embassy and to members of Congress,” the group stated.
According to the ICC, charges brought against O’Connor included selling alcohol, possessing pornography, in addition to spreading Christianity. As Saudi Arabia is a heavily Islamic state, sources say it is very typical for Saudi authorities to mask their zero-tolerance policy regarding other religions by presenting false charges in addition to proselytization charges.
Also, 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.
In the case of O’Connor, sources say the Muttawa had chained his legs and he was hung upside down and “the Muttawa came in turns of four and kicked [him] in the chest and rib area” up until 2AM the next morning. O’Connor had also told visitors that he was whipped on his back and the soles of his feet by electrical wires and was in much pain when he walked.
Although complete details of O’Connor’s release have not yet been made available, the news of Indian ex-patriot’s release will certainly be received well by the Christian community, particularly in India where members of the All India Catholic Union (AICU) sought the intervention of the nation’s president in the case two weeks ago.