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Q: How many synagogues are there in Saudi Arabia? ( Answered 4 out of 5 stars,   3 Comments )
Subject: How many synagogues are there in Saudi Arabia?
Category: Relationships and Society > Religion
Asked by: guyh-ga
List Price: $12.00
Posted: 30 May 2004 01:47 PDT
Expires: 29 Jun 2004 01:47 PDT
Question ID: 353796
How many synagogues (or other permanent structures related to Judaism)
are there in Saudi Arabia, and how many mosques (or other permanent
structures related to Islam) are there in Israel? How have these
numbers changed since 1948?
Subject: Re: How many synagogues are there in Saudi Arabia?
Answered By: politicalguru-ga on 30 May 2004 03:17 PDT
Rated:4 out of 5 stars
Dear Guyh, 

There are no synagogues in Saudi Arabia, except - perhaps - temporary ones in 
U.S. military bases (I could not find information indicating whether
or not the US Military has synagogues in Saudi Arabia; religious
practice of Americans in the Saudi Arabia, including that of
Christians, has been previously constrained by the Saudi government).

The public worship of religions other than the official version of
Sunni Islam is prohibited by law: "The Government does not provide
legal protection for freedom of religion, and such protection does not
exist in practice. Islam is the official religion, and the law
requires that all citizens be Muslims. The Government prohibits the
public practice of non-Muslim religions. The Government recognizes the
right of non-Muslims to worship in private; however, it does not
always respect this right in practice, and does not define this right
in law." (SOURCE: International Religious Freedom Report,
see also US Dept. of State report,

According to The Scribe, there are thousands of "crypto Jews", living
in the Saudi Arabia but hiding their identity (SOURCE: The Scribe,
<>). Even before 1948, there were no
"official" Jewish communities in the Saudi Kingdom, due to the
regulations against non-Sunnis (Jews are not the only ones who cannot
practice their religion: there are many foreign - 90% Catholic -
workers who are not allowed to celebrate Christmas or otherwise
practice their religion; Shiite Muslims and Sunnis who don't adhere
with the official school - Sufis, for example, are persecuted;
Baha'is, Hindus or Zoroastrians are discriminated even in comparison
to the other abovementioned religious groups).

There is a large Muslim community in Israel. Before 1948, Muslims
consisted the majority in the territory. "The 400-odd Palestinian
villages razed in 1948 contained at least 400 mosques and 400
cemeteries." (SOURC: Mideast Facts,

Today, there are 170 "official" mosques, that is, mosques whose 340
Imams are civil servants and get salary from the government for
performing religious services. The Islamic Movement operates more
mosques in Israel ("[...] since 1988, some 220 new mosques were built
in Israel, mostly by the Islamic Movement that controls them. In 1988,
there were only 80 mosques in Israel.", SOURCE:  "Israel's Islamic
movement & Hamas", <>).

However, it is important to add at this point, that this might be like
comparing apples and oranges:

- There was a Muslim majority in the "Israel" territory before 1948,
there was never (at least since the consolidation of Islam) a Jewish
majority in the Saudi Kingdom.

- Israel is nominally a democracy, the Saudi Arabia isn't. That means
that Israel is committed to basic human rights and religious freedoms.
Saudi Arabia does not consider itself committed to those values.
I hope that this answered your question. Please contact me if you need
any further clarification before you rate the answer.

Search strategy: "jews in saudi"; "synagogues in saudi"; "saudi
arabia" "religious minorities"; israel, mosques, "before 1948".
guyh-ga rated this answer:4 out of 5 stars
Thanks for the quick answer!

Subject: Re: How many synagogues are there in Saudi Arabia?
From: ijazahmad-ga on 30 May 2004 09:47 PDT
Althouh the question has been answered but I think their are few thing
which need to be clarified.
In fact saudi arabia was never a native land of jews and
christians.Before Islam jews and christian were living in saudi arabia
but they were in minirity compared to non belivers.Jews came in saudi
arabia after the expension of roman empire upto the palistine.After
the fall of makka(mecca)to muslim almost all of  arab become muslim
which include christian, jews and other non belivers. Uptill than no
muslim remin in very little number and this is the main reason that
their is no synagogue of non muslim in saudi arabia. Compared to
this,in palistine beofore 1948, muslim were in majority comapred to
people of other religion. And this the reason that muslim places of
worship were in Israel.

The learned "politicalguru-ga" has appraised human right of Israel but we are
watching daily on tv how Israel fullfills his commitment to human
rights.If guns viz stone is the answer than he is really mainting
human right at the best.

Ijaz Ahmad
Subject: Re: How many synagogues are there in Saudi Arabia?
From: guyh-ga on 30 May 2004 10:36 PDT
The Israeli government actually funds 170 mosques, and any private
organization is free to establish their own in Israel. In Saudi
Arabia, practicing Judaism or indeed any other religion is considered
a crime. So much for Islam's claim to respect the "people of the
book". I think that's all the clarification that's required, Ijaz.
Subject: Re: How many synagogues are there in Saudi Arabia?
From: mr100percent-ga on 13 Oct 2004 22:37 PDT
Quick comment to guyh, Islam the religion respects people of the book.
Saudi Arabia the country, by a wide consensus, does not. There is a
large difference between the two, and if you desire, I can provide
quotations of Islamic sources and scholars to show that. Saudi Arabia
is a notable exception; even Afghanistan had a synagogue under the

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