After opening movie theaters and allowing women to drive, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman continues his open policy by promises to open two Coptic churches in Riyadh.
Rabat – Saudi Arabia has allowed the first mass of the Coptic Orthodox community in Riyadh, following Mohammed bin Salman’s invitation of a Coptic Orthodox bishop to Saudi Arabia.
Coptic Orthodox Bishop Anba Marcos of Shobra El-Kheima confirmed that he performed the first Coptic mass in Riyadh. He also said that a hall was set up in one of the city’s squares, according to Aljazeera.
The Egyptian press quoted Bishop Marcos as saying that on his visit to Saudi Arabia he will meet the Coptic Christians in the kingdom and reassure them of their condition in their second homeland. Saudi Arabia is home to 1.2 million Christians—Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and Protestant—according to the US State Department’s religious freedom report.
Marcos also confirmed that his first visit on Saudi soil came at the invitation of the Saudi Royal Court, and he will stay until December 17.
Bishop Marcos had previously invited Mohammed bin Salman to Saint Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in Cairo. The Saudi crown prince visited Saint Mark’s in March 2018.
With Mohammed bin Salman’s increasing power in Saudi Arabia, the visits of Christian leaders from various sects to Saudi Arabia have notably increased, according to Al Jazeera.
2 new churches in Riyadh
Mohammed bin Salman also received a delegation of American evangelical Christian leaders on November 1 at the Royal Palace in Riyadh.
Among the delegation was the founder of the Jerusalem Prayer Team, Mike Evans, who announced that Mohammed bin Salman promised to open two churches in Riyadh.
The scheduled date for the two new churches’ opening has not yet been announced.
Mohammed bin Salman has been under international pressure following the scandal of Jamal Khashoggi’s murder in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2, in which MBS was viewed as the main culprit.
In the last week, the Saudi crown prince made a tour of several countries, including Tunisia, Mauritania, and Algeria, to improve his global image.
Upon learning of the visit, Tunisian activists and politicians gathered in front of the presidential palace in Carthage to express their opposition to Mohammed bin Salman’s visit to the country.
For his part, King Mohammed VI snubbed Mohammed bin Salman. A source told Morocco World News that MBS did not visit Morocco because the King did not agree to receive him, saying it did not suit his schedule.