After the story came through yesterday about a Muslim plotting a terrorist attack on a Scottish Rite center in Milwaukee, I was doing some internet browsing and came across a description of an incident I had long heard of, but never knew the details. Referred to as "The Red Sea Incident," it tells the story of a Masonic lodge in Saudi Arabia in 1977 that was organized for foreign contractors in that strict Islamic country, and the night it was broken up by the Saudi police. Several officers were arrested, and the lodge was ransacked, along with the homes of several brethren.
Red Sea Lodge No. 919 was chartered by the American Canadian Grand Lodge AF&AM, in the jurisdiction of the United Grand Lodges of Germany (VHLvD). Apart from the foreign contractor zones, Freemasonry is completely forbidden in the Kingdom, and as the story goes on to show, it is only occasionally tolerated, and Masons practice their Craft in Saudi Arabia, and other Middle Eastern countries, at their peril. It is a stark example of why we should not take our freedom to associate in the West for granted.
Interestingly, I was visiting California last year and met a Brother who had actually been at the lodge the night of the incident. But I had never come across the details until I found this story.
The story was written by Brother James Krohn, and it was printed on the 10th anniversary of the incident in 1987 by the Grand Lodge. It can be found on the Skirrit website, here.