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Saudi Arabia Arrests Worshippers Praying for Palestine

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, home to Islam’s holiest sites, is reportedly detaining worshipers who express solidarity for Gaza in any way, including prayers for Occupied Palestine in the holy sites of Mecca and Medina. 

Islah Abdur-Rahman, A British actor and presenter who visited the Kingdom for a religious pilgrimage with his family in Mecca said that he was detained by soldiers. 

“I was stopped by four soldiers for wearing a white keffiyeh around my head and a Palestinian coloured tasbih [rosary beads] around my wrist,” he said.“I was escorted to an off-site location where they detained people for possible crimes or offenses. Once I was detained, there were other soldiers who interrogated me and asked me about my nationality, why I’m here, where I traveled from, how long I’m here for.” 

The soldiers then questioned Abdur-Rahman to demonstrate how he was wearing his Keffiyeh while they revoked his visa. 

“It was evident that the scarf was the issue,” he said. “They were talking in Arabic but they kept saying ‘Palestinian keffiyeh’ and looking at the scarf.

“Eventually, when I was let go, a worker came up to me, picked up my scarf and said, ‘This is not good, Israel-Palestine is not good, so don’t wear it, it’s not allowed.” 

Another similar story surfaced online on November 10, 2023, showing an Algerian man who was partaking in a pilgrimage in Saudi and was arrested by Saudi authorities for simply “sympathizing with Palestinians and praying for them.”

“I was detained for more than six hours for supplicating for our brothers in Palestine,” he says in the video.

“In Medina, I did my prayers and I took the opportunity to supplicate for the children and victims in Palestine… is it a crime to pray for the oppressed? I did not know that this was forbidden in the holy sites.

“I had not even finished my dua [prayers] before soldiers came and took my phone and they made me delete a video where I was praying for people in Gaza.”

The man said that he was taken to different police stations and that he tried to explain he was simply praying, and that he deleted the video as soon as he was asked to. 

“I have high blood pressure and I’m diabetic, but it was held for six hours. I was treated like a criminal and told that I was detained for ‘sympathizing and praying for Palestine’ and my fingerprints were taken,” he said.

He further mentioned that an Indonesian woman, who had a Palestinian flag on her hijab, was also detained.

Renowned sheikhs within the kingdom have reportedly warned people from making explicit comments or gestures about the Israeli regime’s genocide against the Gaza Strip which has now killed over 13,000 people with 75% of them women and children. 

The head of Saudi Arabia’s religious affairs at the Grand Mosque, Abdul Rahman al-Sudais, allegedly advised that the people “should not interfere or get involved in what is happening in Gaza.”

“You are seeing what is happening to our brothers and sisters in Palestine, what else should we do towards them, other than pray for them,” he said. 

“Muslims should not give in to these provocations and let the events divide them. They must refer back to their guardians and authorities, their scholars, and not engage in what they have no right to engage in.”

The Monarchs of Saudi Arabia are familiar with mass killings following their own US-Backed Saudi War on Yemen that killed over 370,000 people in a span of 8 years.

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