Indian national arrested for blasphemous Facebook post

Updated 05 March 2015

Indian national arrested for blasphemous Facebook post

The arrest of an Indian national in Jeddah, for allegedly posting a blasphemous image of the Kaaba on his Facebook page, has seen experts warn that such content violates the country’s cyber laws and can mean jail time and heavy fines.
Indian Consul General B.S. Mubarak confirmed that the Indian national has been jailed for violating the Kingdom’s cyber laws.
“This happened a month ago in Jeddah and the Saudi law enforcement authorities are currently conducting an investigation,” he told Arab News on Wednesday. “We are trying to help him in the best possible way,” he said.
According to legal experts, once the investigations are over, judgment would be pronounced and only then would the consulate be able to enter a plea on his behalf. The public prosecutor, according to a report in a local newspaper, is calling on the courts to punish the man severely for allegedly posting the blasphemous material.
Under the Kingdom’s cyber laws, anyone involved in the transmission or storage of material violating religious values and public morals, can be jailed for up to five years and fined up to SR3 million.
The image displayed on Facebook showed the Holy Kaaba plastered with Hindu deities. The image had created a furor in many Indian cities last year. The report said a Saudi national, shocked by the image, alerted the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice (Haia), and an investigation was launched.
The Indian expat was arrested by the police at the airport. He admitted that the Facebook page was his, but said that he had seen a link to the picture on another account and that he had to click “Like” to enable him to see it. The picture was automatically loaded onto his account for his followers to see, he said.
However, investigators decided that he was guilty of breaking the Kingdom’s cyber law by publishing an offensive picture. The Indian man is said to have been in the Kingdom for only two years and was working for a catering company in Jeddah.
Social media experts said people need to be very careful about posts on Facebook and Twitter.
“These are serious issues,” said Adnan Akram, a consultant with an online security firm. “You should never click on anything automatically. It can create havoc as in the case of this young man.”
Nadira Hussain, a mother of three and an enthusiastic user of Facebook, said she was horrified at one stage when her Facebook wall was plastered with nude images. “I didn’t know what to do. My children and close relatives were all horrified but it was some kind of virus. Even then, it left quite a scar on me and I stopped using Facebook altogether,” she said.
She said children should be educated about online behavior. “They may do something innocently, but the repercussions of their acts can be devastating,” she added.

Worshippers flock to reopened Prophet’s Mosque for Friday prayers

Updated 06 June 2020

Worshippers flock to reopened Prophet’s Mosque for Friday prayers

MADINAH: Hundreds of thousands of worshippers attended the first Friday prayers to be held at the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah since the gatherings were suspended to stop the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak.

The green light for the resumption of the prayer meetings came as part of a plan to gradually reopen the Kingdom’s mosques while ensuring worshippers and visitors adhered to preventive measures.

A ban on access to the Rawdah remained in place and only groups of worshippers numbering up to a maximum of 40 percent of the mosque’s capacity were being allowed entry.

Precautionary measures also included the allocation of specific doors for the entry of worshippers, the installation of thermal cameras, removal of all carpets so that prayers could be performed on the marble, sanitization of the mosque’s floors and courtyards, periodic opening of domes and canopies to ventilate the mosque, and the removal of Zamzam water containers.

The Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah will be closed after evening prayers and reopened one hour before dawn prayers. Parking lots will operate at 50 percent capacity and a media awareness campaign has been launched to highlight safety procedures at the holy site.

Medical teams have also been stationed at the main entrances to the mosque in cooperation with the Ministry of Health.

Elsewhere in the Kingdom, worshippers also flocked to perform Friday prayers at mosques amid strict health measures.

On May 31, Saudi authorities reopened all mosques for prayers, except in Makkah, as part of the Kingdom’s plan for a gradual return to normal life.

Last week the minister of Islamic affairs, dawah and guidance said that the country’s mosques were ready to welcome back worshippers, following his field trips to check that necessary preparations had been made.

All worshippers must still maintain a distance of 2 meters between rows, wear masks to enter a mosque, and Friday sermons and prayers have been limited to a maximum of 15 minutes.