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Once sentenced to death, former prisoner talks with local group

By July 6, 2010

Democrat correspondent

Internationally celebrated Christian pastor Wally Magdangal of Sacramento came to Placerville Monday, speaking before the El Dorado County Republican Women, Federated at DennyÕs Restaurant to enlighten members regarding his personal story of persecution and imprisonment in Saudi Arabia. He also talked of what he described as the pressing dangers of radical Islam as an organization.

Magdangal, originally born in the Philippines, became a legal U.S. citizen and a man of the church, a path that took him as a missionary to Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Islam. Magdangal was the pastor of an underground church in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in the early Õ90s, during the Persian Gulf War. Over time, his church grew in attendance and reputation until it was recognized as one of the largest in Saudi Arabia.

As a result, the Saudi government decided the impact he was having on Saudi Arabian citizens who were converting to Christianity was in fact a threat to the Islam balance, and imprisoned him after listing him as the most wanted religious authority at the time. Arrested and placed in a Saudi prison, Magdangal was tortured for his faith in Christ and was sentenced to death by public hanging, Christmas Day, 1992.

Hours before his execution, Magdangal was granted a stay and eventually his release was negotiated as his family, members of the Christian church, human rights organizations and political figures from international backgrounds protested and appealed to the Monarchy of Saudi Arabia.

For a man who has experienced the Òcountdown to deathÓ and endured the tortures of Saudi imprisonment, Magdangal was incredibly upbeat and warm with members of the Monday group. Observers agreed that Magdangal was sincere, humble and humorous in his speech Ñ which chronicled his life from the Philippines up until present day.

Magdangal opened with warm sentiments about Filipino-American relations, crediting the United States and, specifically General Douglas MacArthur, as a big part of the reason the Philippines enjoy freedom. They celebrate their independence on June 12, dating back to 1898.

ÒYes, our Independence Day is June 12th,Ó Magdangal said. ÒBut we still celebrate July 4th as our National Filipino-American Friendship Day!

ÒThe Philippines owe much to America, and it is truly a blessed, free country and way of life that is worth fighting for.Ó

Magdangal spoke briefly about his book, Arrested in the Kingdom, which is his recorded account of his experience in a Saudi prison, and spoke with conviction on the threat of radical Islam to the American way of life.

Originally born Oswaldo Magdangal, more information on Pastor Wally can be found at

Brandon Anicich

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