By BosNewsLife Middle East Service with reporting by BosNewsLife’s Stefan J. Bos
RIYADH, SAUDI ARABIA (BosNewsLife)– An ex-Muslim who became Christian in Saudi Arabia faced a court and possible jail this week for helping his sister, a fellow believer, to escape the Islamic nation, BosNewsLife learned.
The Saudi man, only identified as A. amid security concerns, also faces other court cases and violent threats against his wife and son due to his faith in Jesus Christ, Christians said.
“In last month’s court hearing, he was accused of trying to convert Muslims. That case is ongoing,” confirmed Middle East Concern (MEC), an advocacy group supporting him.
Thursday’s case focused on A’s involvement in supporting his sister “who several years ago faced abuse by the family after they discovered she had become a Christian,” MEC explained. “A. helped her flee the country with her children. Afterward, the family accused A. of financial wrongdoing, starting the case against him,” the group added in a statement.
The judge has reportedly said that he would ask the relative accusing A. “to swear on the Qur’an” deemed a holy book by Muslims that A. stole money.
“If the relative does so, A. will be found guilty and ordered to pay a large amount in restitution to the family. As he will not be able to do so, he will have to serve time in prison,” MEC explained in an assessment.
The case comes while A’s brother-in-law, the husband of the sister who fled, reportedly threatens violence against A.’s wife and son. “A. is worried that, if he is imprisoned, they will be vulnerable to attacks by the brother-in-law and the wider family,” MEC said.
In recent years A. already “faced several prison sentences and flogging due to his faith and his assistance to his sister,” MEC added. The group said it had urged its supporters to pray that “that A., his wife, and son will experience the Lord’s peace and sustaining presence in these difficult times.”
It also asked prayers that “A. will not be sent to prison” for protection for him and his family and “for the wider family to come to faith” in Jesus Christ.
The case underscored broader concerns about pressure on many of the estimated 1.2 million Christians in Saudi Arabia. “The few Saudi Christians from a Muslim background face even more pressure, especially from their families,” said advocacy group Open Doors.
“Expatriate Muslims converting to the Christian faith also face strong persecution, similar to the levels they would have experienced in their home country. Whether Saudi or otherwise, most converts are forced to practice their faith in secrecy,” the group added.
Saudi Arabia ranks 14th on the annual ‘World Watch List’ of 50 nations where Open Doors claims Christians suffer most for their faith.