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70 Lawmakers urge Obama to press Saudi Arabia for release of Ahmadi prisoners

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70 members of the U.S. Congress sent a bi-partisan letter to President Obama on March 26, 2014, in advance of his upcoming trip to Saudi Arabia, urging for the release of two Ahmadi Muslim "prisoners of conscience."

Sultan Hamid Marzooq al-Enezi and Saud Falih Awad al-Enezi were arrested in May 2012 for interrogation and later moved to an undisclosed prison on the charge of apostasy for becoming members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community.

In January 2014, The Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission of the US Congress held hearing on the matter of "Prisoners of Conscience Around the World" and the plight of the two Ahmadi brothers emerged from a written testimony submitted by Amjad Mahmood Khan, Esq., national director of public affairs of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community - USA.

Prior to their arrest, it was submitted, the pair was summoned by the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, which advised them to leave the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community or face prison.

The el-Enezi brothers' refusal "to leave the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, and return to what the clerics purported to be Islam, led to their arrest," it was reported.

The matter of Ahmadi Muslim prisoners' release was part of a wider effort by the US lawmakers --several of whom are now a part of the recently established Ahmadiyya Muslim Caucus-- to press Saudi Arabia for an end to its "systematic human rights violations."

The letter signed by lawmakers yesterday urges the President to 'address specific human rights reforms' in his direct meeting with King Abdullah and other Saudi officials.

"Your meeting with King Abdullah and other officials will be an opportunity to publicly integrate human rights concerns, as defined by The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, into the US-Saudi relationship," the letter stated.

The letter, in addition to the Ahmadi Muslim prisoners' matter, highlighted the case of Ethiopian Christians raided by Saudi police for holding a private religious gathering in Jeddah and the groups' subsequent expulsion from the Kingdom.

"The Government of Saudi Arabia must end its ban on public gatherings, lift restrictions of social media, stop the use of torture, and reform the new so-called "anti-terror" laws that particularly criminalize all form of peaceful descent," the lawmakers asserted through their letter.

The Ahmadiyya Muslim Caucus was established on February 28, 2014, and Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) and Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) are co-chairs of the bi-partisan caucus.

Rep. Wolf also serves as a co-chairman of the bipartisan Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission.

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