SAUDIS ARREST CHRISTIAN FOR ENTERING MECCA
Saudi officials have arrested a man in Mecca for being a Christian, saying that the city, which Muslims consider to be holy, is off-limits to non-Muslims.
Nirosh Kamanda, a Sri Lankan Christian, was detained by the Saudi Expatriates Monitoring Committee last week after he started to sell goods outside Mecca's Great Mosque.
After running his fingerprints through a new security system, Saudi police discovered that he was a Christian who had arrived in the country six months earlier to take a job as a truck driver in the city of Dammam. Kamanda had subsequently left his place of work and moved to Mecca.
"The Grand Mosque and the holy city are forbidden to non-Muslims," Col. Suhail Matrafi, head of the department of Expatriates Affairs in Mecca, told the Saudi daily Arab News. "The new fingerprints system is very helpful and will help us a lot to discover the identity of a lot of criminals," he said.
In the WaPo article I mentioned earlier, there is this news as well:
[President] Bush ... criticized Iran for actions against U.S.-Iranian nationals who have been incarcerated, detained or put under house arrest there in recent weeks.
"We've made very clear to the Iranian government that the detention of good, decent American souls who are there to be beneficial citizens is not acceptable behavior," Bush said.
Human Rights Watch yesterday reported the disappearance of a fifth U.S.-Iranian national believed to have been detained during a visit to Iran. Ali Shakeri, a businessman from Irvine, Calif., who has lived in the United States since the 1970s, was due to return to the United States from Tehran in early May after a visit to his ailing mother. But he has not been heard from since he left for the airport, according to HRW and two Iranian friends who expected him in London en route home.
"We have every confidence that Shakeri is in detention" in Iran, said Hadi Ghaemi, Iran analyst for Human Rights Watch.