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Appeal Made for 8 Christians Arrested in Saudi Arabia
RIYADH, Saudi Arabia, JUNE 8, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Relatives and friends have made an appeal for the release of eight Christians arrested May 28 in Riyadh because of their faith.

The appeal was sent to AsiaNews, an agency of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions. Among those arrested by the muttawa, or religious police, is John Thomas, 37, a native of Kerala, India, and fellow countryman Vijay Kumar, 45, of Tamil Nadu.

Thomas is accused of "proselytizing," but his relatives explained that for the past eight years all he did was hold private prayer meetings in his apartment with fellow Indian Christians. They also said that this is the first time that he was targeted and that he has been "tortured in inhumane ways," AsiaNews reported.

Working with the regular police, the muttawa picked up Thomas from his place of work and drove him home. There, he was beaten in front of his 5-year-old son and a baby sitter, who was also struck, AsiaNews said.

After his Bibles and other religious objects were collected, he was taken to prison. When Thomas' five-month pregnant wife returned home, she found the place wrecked, the news agency said. Together with relatives, she launched an appeal for her husband's release and their family's right to return to India.