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article imageSaudi police foil Christmas celebration plot, arrest 41 people

By Anne Sewell     Dec 28, 2012 in World
According to a police statement, the religious police in Saudi Arabia raided a house in Al Jawf Province on Wednesday, arresting 41 people, who were "plotting to celebrate Christmas."
The Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar reports that the police said the detainees were the Christian guests of an Asian diplomat. There were apparently also a Saudi Arabian and an Egyptian (both Muslims) present at the gathering.
According to the police report, the host and the two Muslim guests were “severely intoxicated.”
In Saudi Arabia, only religious practices in line with strict Sunni Islam, the state religion in Saudi Arabia, are allowed. All other religious activities are banned.
Reportedly authorities do usually turn a blind eye to private ceremonies, but this policy is not "set in stone" and raids such as this can occur. The "virtue and vice" police regularly enforce the religious norms in the country, including crackdowns on Christians and Hindus living in the country.
Religious leaders encourage this attitude and Saudi Arabia's Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdel Aziz bin Abdullah had previously condemned “invitations to Christmas or wedding celebrations,”
The Grand Mufti also recently caused controversy by authorizing Muslim men to marry girls as young as 10-years-old.
It is not known, at present, whether the people detained in the raid were released or if they will face further prosecution.
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