Sheikh Abdul Aziz Al-Asheikh, the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia, the highest official of religious law in the Sunni country, reportedly declared this week that it is "necessary to destroy all the churches"
in the region, implying that no other religion besides Islam will be tolerated on the Arabian Peninsula -- as there are currently no churches in Saudi Arabia.
Al-Asheikh made the statement Monday during a meeting with a delegation of a Kuwait-based NGO, Society of the Revival of Islamic Heritage, in response to a question of what Shariah law says about building churches, reported an Arabic Christian publication, Linga.org.
The question was a reference to a recent controversial statement by a Kuwaiti member of parliament who reportedly called for the "removal" of churches. The MP reportedly specified later that he merely meant that no churches should be built in Kuwait. In February, a legislation was introduced in the parliament to remove Christian churches from Kuwait and impose Islamic law, according to Catholic News Service. Party officials said later the legislation would not remove the churches but prohibit further construction of Christian churches and non-Muslim places of worship in the country.
Saudi Arabia is a country that is officially 100 percent Muslim, and other religions are forbidden. Nevertheless, a small minority of Christians is known to worship there, unofficially. According to one 2008 estimate, there were 800,000 Catholics living in Saudi Arabia at the time. Although there are no official church buildings, Christians are allowed to worship at homes and some other designated buildings.