Saudi authorities have arrested a man who claimed to have travelled to the Muslim holy city of Mecca to perform an umrah pilgrimage on behalf of Queen Elizabeth II. The pilgrim, who was not identified by name, had posted footage earlier this week that showed him holding a banner honouring the late queen from inside the courtyard of Mecca’s Grand Mosque.
The clip quickly went viral on Saudi social media, sparking anger among devout Muslims with Twitter users calling for the man’s arrest. The man in question was arrested Monday for “violating the regulations and instructions” of the holy site. Security forces referred him to the public prosecutor to face charges.
The Grand Mosque, among the holiest sites in Islam, is off-limits to non-Muslims. Saudi Arabia also bans signs and political slogans from the sacred courtyard for fear of offending Islamic sensibilities. Queen Elizabeth, who died last week, was head of the Church of England. “Umrah for the soul of Queen Elizabeth II, may Allah grant her peace in heaven and accept her among the righteous,” the banner read in English and Arabic.
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