PE siblings held in Saudi Arabia due home today

Muslim family’s joy tempered as two more kids still detained

Today is a time of mixed emotions for a prominent Muslim family in Port Elizabeth who will be welcoming home two family members detained in Saudi Arabia for security reasons for almost a year.

Prominent Islamic teacher Nazier Desai, 66, said yesterday he was overjoyed that his daughter, Huda, 34, and son Waliyullah, 28, would finally be coming home.

But he is still awaiting the release of two of his children, daughter Yumna, 27, and son Waseeullah, 24.

The four had been detained by Saudi authorities at the Zahban Military prison in Jeddah since November 22.

Desai said the family had been notified about a month ago about the impending release of Huda and Waliyullah.

“The Saudi authorities apologised for wrongfully detaining them under the security act,” he said.

“Someone had reported them and they had been falsely accused.

“According to this piece of legislation, someone who is reported can be detained without being charged for up to a year.”

Desai said his four children had never been formally charged.

While Huda and Waliyullah would be arriving in Port Elizabeth this afternoon, the paperwork was still being finalised for the release of Yumna and Waseeullah.

“They [Saudi authorities] said they will be released soon, but we have not been given a date as yet,” Desai said.

“It has been extremely difficult for us as a family. We are tremendously relieved and, together, we will work towards securing the release of the other two.”

Desai said Huda and Waliyullah were in high spirits and were “excited and eager” to return home.

The two daughters, Huda and Yumna, had been teaching English in Saudi Arabia, while Waliyullah and Waseeullah had been studying for bachelor degrees at the Islamic University of Madinah in Medina.

They were each allowed a 10-minute phone call home every week and gave positive reports about their treatment.

“They ate well and they slept well,” Desai said.

He and his wife, Hafsah, 58, have six other children.

One of Desai’s other daughters, Rushda, who lives in Port Elizabeth, said: “We are torn between joy and grief. We are celebrating their release but still worrying about the other two.

“Hopefully, the two returning home will be able to guide us now as they have been through it. They can help us bring everyone home.”

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