KSA residents urged to respect sanctity of holy sites

KSA residents urged to respect sanctity of holy sites
Pilgrims gather atop Mount Arafat, also known as Jabal al-Rahma (Mount of Mercy) in Makkah during the climax of the Hajj pilgrimage on July 8, 2022. (Delil Souleiman / AFP)
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Updated 23 July 2022

KSA residents urged to respect sanctity of holy sites

KSA residents urged to respect sanctity of holy sites
  • Reminder follows report that a Saudi citizen enabled a non-Muslim US journalist to enter city of Makkah illegally

RIYADH: Residents of Saudi Arabia were urged on Friday to respect the sanctity of the Kingdom’s holy sites after a Saudi citizen was arrested on charges of enabling a non-Muslim to enter Makkah illegally.

Sheikh Abdulrahman Al-Sudais, president of the General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques, stressed the need for commitment and full compliance with the regulations and instructions concerning the holy sites.

He said the sanctity of the Two Holy Mosques was a line that could not be crossed for the Kingdom, and any violation would not be tolerated, regardless of the nationality of those involved and the nature of their work.

Makkah Police said they had referred a Saudi citizen to the Public Prosecution for being complicit in enabling a non-Muslim journalist with US citizenship to enter Makkah “in an explicit violation of the laws that prohibit entry to Makkah for non-Muslims.”

A police spokesperson said foreigners coming to Saudi Arabia must respect and abide by the country’s laws, especially with regard to the Grand Mosque in Makkah and the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah.

The US journalist is thought to be Gil Tamary, chief international editor and commentator for Channel 13 News in Israel, who was in Jeddah last week covering US President Joe Biden’s visit. The channel broadcast a 10-minute report of Tamary traveling to Makkah by car and climbing Mount Arafat, a sacred site where Muslims gather during Hajj.

Israel’s regional co-operation minister Esawi Freij described the report as “stupid and harmful.” He said: “It was irresponsible and damaging to air this report just for the sake of ratings.”

Amid online outrage, Tamary apologized. He said he had not intended to offend Muslims but wanted to “showcase the importance” of Makkah and “the beauty of the religion.”