Manila/Riyadh: Seventeen Filipinos who attended a Halloween party in Saudi Arabia were arrested by a group of Saudi intelligence officers, said the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs in a statement released on Tuesday. The charges levied against the arrested Filipinos in Al Nisa prison is however unclear.

Initially, the Filipinos were arrested after authorities reported that they did not have the appropriate permission to attend the party. However, the Filipino embassy feared that the charges may be due to the fact that the members at the party were a mixed group. The statement read: “Saudi laws strictly prohibit unattached males and females from being seen together in public. The compound was raided after neighbours complained of loud noise.”

The Philippine Ambassador to Riyadh, Adnan Alonto had also sent a report to the foreign department which stated that both men and women participated in the Halloween party. Thus the Saudi intelligence officers entered the party venue in Riyadh and arrested all those who attended, reported Efe news.

A notice was issued to the Philippine community in the country, by the embassy in Riyadh, to act sensitively to the issues of the locals. Bishop Ruperto Santos was quoted by the Manila Bulletin as saying, “Let us exhaust all means to assist and help our OFWs who accidentally got involved of just attending (a) Halloween party.” He added, “It was not their intentions, nor were they promoters.” Events associated with religions other than Islam, such as Halloween, Valentine’s day and Christmas are prohibitory in nature as they not sanctioned by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Foreign data claim that around 3,000 Filipinos leave their country every day in search of temporary employment contracts abroad. Most of them go to Arab countries where women are employed as domestic help and men as construction labourers.

(With IANS inputs)