by Sani Tukur. Importing larger quantities than this can carry severe penalties. , Proselytizing by non-Muslims is illegal, and conversion by Muslims to another religion (apostasy) carries the death penalty (though there have been no confirmed reports of executions for apostasy in recent years).  (More than 30% of the population is made up of foreign workers who are predominantly but not entirely Muslim.) With the central aim of transitioning the economy away from its dependency on the oil sector, the government of Saudi Arabia continues to push ahead with its diversification efforts. Public worship and display by non-Muslim faiths is prohibited. The legal system is based largely on sharia If the 5% figure is taken into account, the numerical amount would imply that there are 'almost a million' Saudi atheists or 935,378 to be exact. Sometime before 1 December 2018, a Coptic Mass was performed in the city of Riyadh by Ava Morkos, Coptic Bishop of Shobra Al-Kheima in Egypt, during his visit to Saudi Arabia (according to Egyptian and other Arab media). While the official charge was “mixing with the opposite sex” — a crime for unrelated people in Saudi Arabia — the offenders complained they were arrested for praying as Christians. In late 2014 a law was promulgated calling for the death penalty for anyone bringing into the country "publications that have a prejudice to any other religio…  No law requires residents to be Muslim, however, public worship by adherents of religions other than Islam is forbidden. The country has monopolized religion, and there is no tolerance of other religions beliefs, ideologies, and symbols. Somalia ranked first for islam > percentage muslim amongst Former British colonies in 2004.  Religious inequality extends to compensation awards in court cases. The Shiʿah have suffered the greatest persecution. , Saudi Arabia is an Islamic theocracy. Pin the Capital on the Country: Fact or Fiction? Article 1 of the law also conflated atheism and religious dissent, outlawing "calling for atheist thought in any form, or calling into question the fundamentals of the Islamic religion on which this country is based". Saudi Arabia hopes tourism dollars will contribute 10% of its GDP by 2030.  Foreign workers are not allowed to celebrate Christmas or Easter. Public displays by non-Wahhābī Muslim groups, including by other Sunni sects, have been limited and even banned by the government. According to the government of the United Kingdom: The public practice of any form of religion other than Islam is illegal; as is an intention to convert others. Compared with European expulsions, Umar's decree was both limited and compassionate. ... the Jews and Christians of Arabia were resettled on lands assigned to them – the Jews in Syria, the Christians in Iraq. In late 2014 a law was promulgated calling for the death penalty for anyone bringing into the country "publications that have a prejudice to any other religious beliefs other than Islam" (thought to include non-Muslim religious books). Four traditional regions stand out—the Hejaz, Asir, Najd, and Al-Hasa (transliterated more precisely as Al-Ḥijāz, ʿAsīr, Najd, and Al-Aḥsāʾ, respectively). SAUDI ARABIA 2018 INTERNATIONAL RELIGIOUS FREEDOM REPORT Executive Summary According to the 1992 Basic Law of Governance, the country’s official religion is Islam and the constitution is the Quran and Sunna (traditions and practices based on the life of the Prophet Muhammad). Saudi Arabia.Local laws and customs", "For First Time Ever, Christian Mass Held Openly In Saudi Arabia (Special dispatch 7795)", On Saudi Arabia: Its People, past, Religion, Fault Lines and Future, "Persecuted for Praying to God in Saudi Arabia", "Catholic priest arrested and expelled from Riyadh", Report of the High Level Committee on the Indian Diaspora. New tourist regulations allow for one Bible to be brought into the country for personal use only.  Shias also face discrimination in employment and restrictions are imposed on the public celebration of Shia festivals such as Ashura and on the Shia taking part in communal public worship. It reports the arrest of a Catholic priest for saying mass in 2006. , The annual report of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) tagged Saudi Arabia along with 15 other nations as “countries of particular concern” for engaging in or tolerating “systematic, ongoing, egregious violations [of religious freedom]”. Saudi Arabia is the birthplace of Islam, and most of its natives are adherents of the majority Sunni branch.  Any non-Muslim attempting to acquire Saudi Arabian nationality must convert to Islam. In 2017, the population of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was about 32.55 million, compared to 31.47 million according to the demographic survey of 2016, with an average annual growth rate of 2.52 per cent, according to the General Authority for Statistics.. Wahhābism, as it is called in the West (members refer to themselves as muwaḥḥidūn, “unitarians”), is a strict interpretation of the Ḥanbalī school of Islamic jurisprudence and is named for Muḥammad ibn ʿAbd al-Wahhāb (1703–92), a religious scholar whose alliance with Ibn Saud led to the establishment of the first Saʿūdī state. , Estimates of the number of Christians in Saudi Arabia include 1,500,000 (Memri.org) All Christians in the Kingdom are foreign workers. For non-Sunni Muslims, non-Muslims, and non-religious, "freedom of religion is neither recognized nor protected under the law" and Saudi "government policies continued to place severe restrictions on religious freedom", according to the 2013 International Religious Freedom Report of the U.S. State Department. Countries of the Gulf Region, Saudi Arabia's Religious Police Crack Down, "Saudi activist sentenced to 10 years, 1,000 lashes for insulting Islam", "Saudi activist receives 7-year sentence, 600 lashes for insulting Islam", "Saudi Arabia declares all atheists are terrorists in new law to crack down on political dissidents", "Saudi Arabia: New Terrorism Regulations Assault Rights", (in Arabic) نسبة الملحدين في السعودية تتراوح بين 5 و 9 بالمئة, "سعورس : فرانس 24: نسبة الإلحاد مرتفعة في السعودية والسلطات تعتبره إرهابا", هل اقترب عدد الملحدين السعوديين من «المليون»؟. Is Mecca the capital of Saudi Arabia? As a result, Saudi Arabia’s overall rate of natural increase is more than twice the world average, and its population is young, with roughly half under 30 years old and about one-fourth younger than 15. , According to Human Rights Watch, the Shia Muslim minority face systematic discrimination from the Saudi Arabian government in education, the justice system and especially religious freedom. , Disbelief in God is a capital offense in the kingdom. Saudi Arabia has experienced a population explosion in the last 40 years, and continues to grow at a rate of 1.63% per year.  Saudi Arabians or foreign residents who call "into question the fundamentals of the Islamic religion on which this country is based" may be subject to as much as 20 years in prison. George [Joshua] had just celebrated mass in a private house when seven religious policemen (muttawa) broke into the house together with two ordinary policemen. Saudi Arabia is encouraging the growth of the private sector in order to diversify its economy and to employ more Saudi nationals. This paper is intended to analyse the shifting power dynamics in Saudi Arabia and, more specifically, how they are affecting the Saudi … In the rest of the kingdom, non-Muslims, while admitted as temporary visitors, were not permitted to establish residence or practice their religion..  A 2006 report in Asia News states that there are "at least one million" Roman Catholics in the kingdom.