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Muslims leaving Islam (apostasy) is punishable by death under the version of Islamic law adopted by the country, but, as of 2011 Saudi Arabia is an Islamic theocracy and the Government has declared the Qur'an and the Sunnah (tradition) of Muhammad to be the country’s Constitution. The Government prohibits the public practice of other religions but the government generally allows private practice of non-Muslim religions.
Contrary practices, such as celebrating Maulid Al-Nabi (birthday of the Prophet Muhammad) and visits to the tombs of renowned Muslims, are forbidden, although enforcement was more relaxed in some communities than in others, and Shi'a were permitted to observe Ashura publicly in some communities.
A majority of Saudi citizens are Salafi Muslims, and the strict interpretation of Islam taught by the Salafi or Wahhabi (historically known as Sufyani in early Islam but now named as Salafi) sect is the only officially recognized religion. In 2006, they formed around 15% of the native population.
They live mostly in the eastern districts on the Persian Gulf (Qatif, Al-Hasa, Dammam), where they constitute approximately three-quarters of the native population, and in the western highlands of Arabia (districts of Jazan, Najran, Asir, Medina, Ta'if, and Hijaz). Under the law, children born to Muslim fathers are also Muslim, regardless of the country or the religious tradition in which they have been raised.
While immigration to Canada increased during the years of Bush’s elections, the rise was not more than increases in other years, data from the Montreal-based Association for Canadian Studies show.
A governmental committee defines the qualifications of imams.
Blasphemy against Sunni Islam is also punishable by death, but the more common penalty is a long prison sentence.
There have been no confirmed reports of executions for either apostasy or blasphemy in recent years.
Comprehensive statistics for the religious denominations of foreigners are not available, but they include Muslims from the various branches and schools of Islam, Christians (including Eastern Orthodox, Protestants, and Roman Catholics), Jews, more than 250,000 Hindus, more than 70,000 Buddhists, approximately 45,000 Sikhs, and others.
Accurate religious demographics of citizens are difficult to obtain.
Practices contrary to this interpretation, such as celebration of Muhammad's birthday and visits to the tombs of renowned Muslims, are discouraged.