A Saudi citizen has been arrested and referred to the Public Prosecution for facilitating the entry of a non-Muslim journalist into Makkah, violating the country’s law that prohibits non-Muslims from entering the city, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported on Friday.
“Makkah region’s police has referred a citizen to the Public Prosecution, who was a complicit in transferring and facilitating the entry of a (non-Muslim) journalist [who] holds the citizenship of the United States of America to the holy city of Makkah by passing through a path dedicated for Muslims only in an explicit violation of the laws that prohibit entry to Makkah for non-Muslims,” the SPA statement said.
“Therefore, he was apprehended, and legal action was taken against him,” the statement added.
The spokesperson for the Makkah Police warned that foreigners coming to Saudi Arabia must respect and abide by the country’s laws, especially with regard to the Masjid Al Haram in Makkah and the Prophet’s Mosque in Medina.
Anyone violation of the non-Muslim entry ban will not be tolerated and perpetrators will be penalized, the spokesperson added.
The journalist who committed the crime has also been referred to the Public Prosecution and the necessary procedures will be implemented, the SPA statement said.
The France-based AFP news agency had previously reported that journalist Gil Tamary – who works for Israel’s Channel 13 – had posted a video of himself on Twitter sneaking into Makkah.
In the video, Tamary was seen climbing Mount Arafat – a sacred site where Muslims gather during Hajj – and talking about how he had always wanted to visit Makkah.
After the video garnered widespread criticism online, the journalist apologized in a tweet and said he had not intended to offend Muslims but wanted to “showcase the importance of Makkah and the beauty of the religion.”