Expats arrested in Saudi for celebrating Halloween

Published:  31 Oct at 6 PM
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Tagged: Australia
Saudi intelligence officers have arrested 17 expats celebrating Halloween at a party in Riyadh.

The 17 Filipino women were arrested last Friday after neighbours complained about the noise coming from a Halloween celebration in a Riyadh compound, but it’s not clear what charges will be brought against the accused. One clue might well be the Saudi law which prohibits single men and women for mingling in a public place. According to a report by the BBC, the Philippine Ambassador in Riyadh said the organisers of the Halloween event have also been arrested and charged with disturbing the peace of the neighbourhood as well as holding a party without first gaining permission from the authorities.

After the news broke, the Philippine Embassy issued a notice warning its nationals in Saudi not to hold events of any kind unless they’ve been sanctioned and permission given by Saudi police. The warning included references to avoiding mixed crowds, drinking alcohol and celebrating holidays which involve traditions associated with any other religion except Islam. The notice mentioned Christmas as well as Valentine’s Day and Halloween.

Practising any other religion except Islam in Saudi Arabia is forbidden, even although some two million residents in the Kingdom are non-Muslims. Recently, the US Commission on International religious freedom released a report accusing Saudi’s ‘religious police’ of raiding private, non-Muslim religious meetings, arresting and deporting the participants, targeting gatherings involving a large number of people, displaying symbols visible from outside or making a lot of noise. In addition, Southeast Asian and African expats have been arrested on charges of witchcraft, the disrupting of Saudi society and the distribution of religious texts.
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