Just days before Crown Prince Abdullah showed up at President Bush's ranch in Crawford, Texas, to declare that "tolerance must extend to those of all faiths and practices," Saudi police stormed a clandestine church in a suburb of Riyadh and arrested 40 Christians for proselytizing.
Al-Riyadh newspaper quoted a security official as saying that the Christians were arrested for "trying to spread their poisonous religious beliefs to others through the distribution of books and pamphlets," the Saudi Institute in Washington, D.C., said in a report.
That the arrests occurred just hours before Mr. Abdullah flew to Texas for a friendly meeting with Mr. Bush underscored the gap between Saudi pledges to the White House and its actions at home.
"What they are doing is saying one thing in English and giving another signal to their own people," said Nina Shea, the director of the Center for Religious Freedom of Freedom House, a human rights organization. "They are saying to the hard-liners at home that nothing is going to change. It's a way of speaking out of both sides of their mouth."
Last Monday, Messrs. Bush and Abdullah met at the president's ranch for talks focused on energy policy and issued a joint declaration in which the Saudis affirmed their commitment to religious tolerance.
"Saudi Arabia reiterates its call on all those who teach and propagate the Islamic faith to adhere strictly to the Islamic message of peace, moderation, and tolerance and reject that which deviates from those principles. Both countries agree that this message of peace, moderation, and tolerance must extend to those of all faiths and practices," it read.The Saudi government has also been found to promote religious intolerance abroad. The Center for Religious Freedom of Freedom House issued a report in January that said pamphlets found in mosques in America carried an assertion from the Saudi Ministry of Islamic Affairs that Muslims who convert "should be killed."
From The New York Sun.