41 Arrested in Saudi Arabia for Plotting to Celebrate Christmas

A crowd looks at the nativity scene in the centre of Ljubljana during year-end festivities and celebrations for the upcoming new year on December 27, 2012. Credit: AFP/Getty Images

The next time you complain about having to get together with your “crazy” family for Christmas, remember this story.

Forty-one apparent Christians and two Saudi Arabian and Egyptian Muslims were recently arrested in Saudi Arabia after authorities busted a party by a reported Asian diplomat. Their crime? “Plotting to celebrate Christmas,” reports the outlet Al-Akhbar.

The outlet has more:

The guests were said to have been referred to the “respective authorities.” It is unclear whether or not they have been released since.

The kingdom, which only recognizes Islamic faith and practice, has in the past banned public Christmas celebrations, but is ambiguous about festivities staged in private quarters.

Saudi religious police are known to detain residents of the kingdom at whim, citing loose interpretations of Sharia and public statements by hardline religious leaders to justify crackdowns.

Saudi Arabia’s head mufti Sheikh Abdel Aziz bin Abdullah had previously condemned “invitations to Christmas or wedding celebrations.”

A member of the Higher Council of Islamic scholars in Saudi Arabia, Sheikh Mohammed al-Othaimin recently prohibited sending holiday wishes to “heretics” on Christmas or other religious Christian holidays.

Gives you more to be thankful for, doesn’t it?