RIYADH: Saudi religious police have destroyed a clandestine makeshift Hindu temple in an old district of Riyadh and deported three worshipers found there, a newspaper reported on Saturday.
Members of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, or the religious police, Thursday stumbled across a room converted into a temple while raiding a number of flats suspected of being used to manufacture alcohol and distribute pornographic videos, pan-Arab Al-Hayat said.
“They were surprised to find that one room had been converted into a Hindu temple,” it said.
A caretaker who was found in the worshipping area ignored the religious police orders to stop performing his religious rituals, the paper added. He was deported along with two other men who arrived on the scene to worship. All forms of non-Muslim worship are banned in ultra-conservative Saudi Arabia, which is home to Islam’s holiest shrines.
The US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), an advisory panel, last month urged the US government to impose sanctions on Saudi Arabia, as well as Vietnam and Eritrea, for violating religious rights.
Last year, the US State Department for the first time named ally Saudi Arabia, as well as Eritrea and Vietnam, “countries of particular concern” in its annual report on religious freedom. A list previously included China, Iran, Myanmar, North Korea and Sudan.
Saudi police have for the past couple of weeks been conducting a security operation in an old part of Riyadh inhabited by mainly Asian labour on suspicion that the area has turned into a haven for illicit trade of pornographic material and forgery of documents