Pilgrims Detained in Saudi Arabia for Public Support of Palestine

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Islah Abdur Rahman sits in Saudi detention with a keffiyeh in his lap, via Instagram.
Islah Abdur Rahman sits in Saudi detention with a keffiyeh in his lap, via Instagram.

Saudi Arabia recently arrested two pilgrims for making public displays of their support of the Muslims in Gaza. One, Mustafa Evi of Turkey, was detained in Masjid An Nabawi in Madinah for six hours on November 10 for praying audibly for the people of Palestine. Islah Abdur Rahman, a British presenter, was detained in the Haram Sharif in Makkah for wearing a keffiyeh in late October.

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

He says on his Instagram account, “I spoke out on what happened to me during my religious pilgrimage in Makkah and believe me I was in two minds to speak out for so many reasons. But once I did, many of you reached out to me saying you had experienced a similar situation but were too afraid to speak up.

“While I did express that I may have gotten unlucky and I don’t want to deter anyone from embarking on their pilgrimage to Makkah, sadly I’ve been getting a lot of violent abuse online from Saudi Arabian accounts.”

Abdur Rahman writes about his detaining officers, “Some shook their head[s] at me and tutted, some rolled their eyes, some laughed in my face and it was clear that this was simply them abusing their power.”

Both men were eventually released, but the arrests highlight Saudi Arabia’s lack of support for the Muslims of Palestine, despite the Organization of Islamic Cooperation conference held there regarding Gaza on November 11.

IP Correspondent