Riyadh – A Labor Ministry source in Riyadh was quoted as saying in a Saudi newspaper on Tuesday that Jews and foreigners with other religions are allowed to work in Saudi Arabia.

“It should be mentioned that the Saudi religious establishment is divided over the issue of foreign workers in the country, due to differing interpretations of a hadith of the Prophet Muhammad that states, ‘Remove the Jews and Christians from the Arabian Peninsula,” noted a report by MEMRI (the Middle East Media Research Institute) on the issue.

The newspaper Al-Watan said that the Saudi labor ministry website that deals with foreign workers permits them to have various regions including: Zoroastrianism, Communism, Judaism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Islam, Christianity, Hinduism, and no religion.

The article said “the labor authorities in the kingdom have permitted the import of people who practice Judaism for working on its soil” and that it is “a move that emphasizes openness to all monotheistic religions and to people from other cultures,” reported MEMRI.

The labor ministry source said that people of any religion can enter and work in the country as the ministry work application focuses on the worker’s nationality.

“We bar entry [into Saudi Arabia] only to those with Israeli citizenship. Other than that, we are open to most nationalities and religions,” said the source adding, “For example, if a worker is a citizen of Yemen but practices Judaism, the [Saudi] Embassy [in Yemen] would not object to issuing him a work visa for the kingdom.”

Saudi Shura Council Foreign Affairs Committee member Sadaqa bin Yahya Fadhel said, “We Muslims have no problem with the Jews…Our biggest problem, as an Arab and Islamic nation, is with the Zionist movement, and not with the Jews or Christians.”

“It is difficult for us, as a Saudi Arab kingdom, to ban ties with a particular religion. The ban must apply only to Israeli citizens, because Israel is linked to the Zionist movement, which is an imperialist colonialist movement that exploits the Jewish faith and is therefore unrelated to Judaism and is totally different from it,” said Fadhel, according to the report.