Wed Jan 24, 2007 7:42pm ET
NEW YORK (Reuters) – U.S.- based Human Rights Watch on Wednesday said Saudi Arabia was arresting and deporting Ahmadi Muslims on the basis of their religious beliefs and urged it to stop.
The group, which wrote a letter to Saudi King Abdullah, said that the Saudi government had arrested 56 non-Saudi followers of the Ahmadiyya movement, including babies and children, and deported at least eight to India and Pakistan without charging them with a crime.
The Ahmadiyya movement defines itself as Muslim but is not recognized by some mainstream Muslim groups because of its divergent beliefs. Human Rights Watch said the Ahmadis in Saudia Arabia are a small community of foreign workers primarily from India and Pakistan.
“The government should release all persons detained in this campaign, stop their deportation and readmit those already deported,” Human Rights Watch said.
“Saudi Arabia should publicly commit (to) and respect freedom of religion and freedom to peacefully assemble and pray with others, and it should bring those responsible for instigating and participating in religious persecution to justice.”
Saudi officials were not immediately available for comment.