Saudi Religious Police Raid Private Homes and Arrest Christians in Prayer

13 Filipino Christians are in jail following a police raid on two homes where Christians had been gathering for prayer. On October 8, 1999 in the city of Riyadh, the Mutawah (Saudi religious police, whose primary purpose is to monitor and control every activity that is considered to be in violation to the teachings of Islam) raided and ransacked two homes, arresting some 40 people and confiscating Bibles, money and other personal belongings. All but 13 of those taken into custody were released the same day. All those arrested were required to sign an affidavit written in "Tagalog," promising not to attend religious meetings again "anywhere in Saudi Arabia." The affidavit stated that the "attendees of the Christian prayer meeting were caught by the Saudi Mutawah" and that they had "violated the law of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia"

The arrests came shortly after meetings on October 5th held by evangelist Morris Cerullo. In an unusual gesture by the Saudi authorities, Cerullo was allowed to hold the meetings in a large auditorium 18 miles from the city of Riyadh. More than a thousand people from different nationalities had been in attendance at the meetings. Most of those in attendance were from the Filipino and Indian communities. Some of the Filipino Christians currently detained are said to have been in Cerullo’s meetings.

"The religious police came in climbing a walled fence during their regular Friday fellowship, stopped the service, handcuffed the men, including the senior pastor, Nelson Ventura and my brother, taught Islam, and got the tithes and offering and brought all the musical instruments with them. They called it a HULIDAP (a combination of HULI meaning siege or capture and HOLD-UP). My brother in handcuffs was paraded in front of his family before he was brought to his office and back to their home and then away to prison for interrogation. My nephew cried for he wanted to go with his daddy", tells a sister to one of the arrested.

The names of the two unofficial house churches that were raided are Jesus Is Lord and Shalom. Sources have provided International Christian Concern with the following names said to be that of the 13 Filipino Christians currently detained at the Malaz prison in Riyadh.

From the Shalom house church:
1.Renato (Rene) Caraan
2.Cesar Lacierda
3.Rollando "Boy" Cubangbang
4.Leopoldo "Paul" Co
5.Daniel Caballero
6.Rogel Bernabe

From the Jesus is Lord house church:
1.Nelson Ventura
2.Fernando Tagadtad
3.Lope Arcella
4.Emmanual Derecho
5.Rogelio Maon
6.Maximo Havanera
7.Arnold Garcia
International Christian Concern
2020 Pennsylvania Ave. N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20006-1846
October 13, 1999

October 31, 1999 they were released from prison. For example Emmanuel Derecho was brought to his employer immediately after the release and the final verdict was for him to leave the country within ten days.

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