Some 35 Ethiopian Christians face deportation from Saudi Arabia for “illicit mingling”, the global rights body Human Rights Watch (HRW) says.

Police arrested the group – including 29 women – after raiding a prayer meeting in the second city of Jeddah.

The women were subjected to strip searches and the men beaten and called “unbelievers”, according to HRW.

In 2006, the Saudi government promised to stop interfering with private worship by non-Muslims.

The group was arrested in a private home as they gathered to pray during the run-up to Christmas, celebrated by Ethiopian Orthodox Christians on 7 January.

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