17 Filipina Expats Arrested after Halloween Party in Saudi Arabia

Published October 31st, 2018 - 10:09 GMT
Halloween Party (Shutterstock)
Halloween Party (Shutterstock)

Seventeen Filipina expats were arrested after they took part in a Halloween party in Saudi Arabia, the Philippines foreign ministry said.

The group were detained by intelligence officers who raided a compound in Riyadh when neighbours complained about the noise on Friday.

It is unclear what charges they face following their arrest, but the ministry reiterated that Saudi laws prohibit unattached men and women from being seen together in public.

Adnan Alonto, the Philipinne ambassador in Riyadh, told the ministry it appeared organisers of the party had been charged with holding an event without permit and disturbing the neighbourhood, the BBC reported.

Mr Alonto has since issued an advisory reminding the Filipino population in Saudi Arabia to 'refrain from organising or attending events or gatherings that are unsanctioned or without permission.'

He said: 'In addition, everyone is reminded to avoid mixed crowds, consuming liquor, and holding public practice of traditions that are associated with religions other than Islam, such as Halloween, Valentines and Christmas.'

It is believed that some of the partygoers did not know the gathering was in celebration of Halloween.

 

Saudi Arabia does not allow public worship of any religion other than Islam - despite the fact at least two million of the country's expatriates are non-Muslims.

In a recent report, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom said Saudi religious police officers had 'raided private non-Muslim religious gatherings organized by expatriate workers and arrested or deported participants, especially when the gatherings were loud or involved large numbers of people or symbols visible from outside the building'.

Expats from Africa and South-East Asia have also been detained by religious police in the past on charges of using witchcraft against their employers, disrupting Saudi society by dividing families, or distorting religious texts.

The country also has strict laws restricting women from making a great deal of important decisions themselves.

Women in Saudi Arabia are unable to marry without permission of their guardian, and must seek permission from the ministry of interior to marry a foreigner.

They are also prohibited from opening bank accounts, travelling alone, and in some cases even leaving the house alone.

Dressing for beauty is illegal, and modest clothing and make up is encouraged. Full length abayas - a long coat worn over other clothes - is recommended for women in public.

They are also largely prohibited from spending time with men who are not family, and it is forbidden for unattached men and women to be seen together in public.

 

This article has been adapted from its original source.


© Associated Newspapers Ltd.

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