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Non-Muslim Filipinos in Saudi Arabia told to be cautious after top cleric issues 'fatwa'

Manila , Tue, 27 Mar 2012 ANI

Manila, Mar 27(ANI): The Filipino population in Saudi Arabia has been told to be more watchful while expressing their faith by an official of a migrant watch group, after one of country's most influential Islamic cleric issued a fatwa against religious structures in the Arab Peninsula.

John Leonard Monterona, Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator, said it is comprehensible why a religious leader of a kingdom hosting a large population of migrant workers would issue such a restriction on the exercise of religion other than Islam.

Monterona said that Saudi Arabia is not just another Islamic country with a large Muslim population, but actually it is the center of Islamic faith.

"Saudi Arabia is an Islamic state. It is where the two Holy Mosques are located. The fatwa should be viewed as a warning. The host government and Saudi religious officials are well aware that there are religious activities being held discretely in homes and apartments by non-Muslims," The Gulf news quoted Monterona, as saying.

He said last year there were a number of Filipino workers, and other nationalities that were arrested by Saudi religious police in Riyadh for illegally conducting religious worship and activities.

"The Filipinos, along with their pastors, were eventually released on the condition that they will stop their regular religious worships and gatherings," Monterona said.Out of the 1.2 million Filipinos in Saudi Arabia, about 10 to 15 per cent are Muslim and about 5 per cent have converted to Islam," he added.

Grand Mufti Shaikh Abdul Aziz Al Al Shaikh had issued a fatwa after a top Kuwaiti official had required his opinion regarding the construction of Christian worship centres or churches in Kuwait.

The fatwa declared that temples, chapels, and churches of Christian denominations in Kuwait and the entire Arab Peninsula must be banned and that existing Christian edifices should be destroyed. (ANI)


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