Saudi to retain ban on non-Muslim places of worship

AFP , Wednesday 24 Apr 2013

Saudi justice minister says ultra-conservative kingdom is not planning to allow establishment of non-Muslim places of worship

Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia's Justice Minister Mohammed al-Issa (Photo: Ahram)

Ultra-conservative Saudi Arabia will retain its longstanding ban on non-Muslim places of worship, Justice Minister Mohammed al-Issa said in comments reported by the Saudi media on Wednesday.

As Saudi Arabia is "home to the Muslim holy places, it does not allow the establishment of non-Muslim places of worship," the Al-Hayat newspaper quoted Issa as telling European MPs in Brussels.

Saudi Arabia, home to the holy Kaaba -- the cube-shaped structure at the Grand Mosque in Mecca towards which Muslims worldwide pray -- has come in for repeated criticism for its ban on non-Muslim places of worship.

Although Saudi Arabia's citizen population is Muslim, the kingdom is also home to millions of expatriates of various beliefs.

Unlike Saudi Arabia, the kingdom's Gulf Arab neighbours allow the building of churches and the celebration of non-Muslim feasts.

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