Jeddah: A Saudi national accused of helping a Jewish reporter working with Israeli TV Channel 13 sneak into Makkah has been arrested, Saudi Press Agency (SPA) said.
Gil Tamary was one of the three Israeli journalist granted visa to enter Saudi Arabia to cover US President Joe Biden's visit to the Kingdom. Biden attended the GCC + 3 Summit in the Port City of Jeddah - some 80 kms from Makkah - one of the holiest cities for Muslims.
The arrest came after Israeli TV Channel 13 aired Gil Tamary's driving past the arched Makkah Gate, which marks the entrance to the city and the point at which non-Muslims are prohibited from entering, and Masjid Al-Haram.
In his roughly 10-minute clip, Tamary also boasted of visiting Mount Arafat, where Muslim pilgrims from all across the world gather every year on 09th of Dhul Hijjah to pray during the climax of the Hajj pilgrimage.
The videos resulted in widespread backlash - both by Saudis, non-Saudis and even a good number of Jews.
"I never liked Gil Tamary. Always thought he was too vain", an Israeli citizen wrote on Twitter.
"Today he gave me another reason to think so. Big mistake. Huge", he added.
The arrest of the Saudi national came soon after the widespread anger that spilled over social media for more than two days.
“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.
An Israeli journalist has breached a total ban on non-Muslim access to Islam’s holiest site in Makkah, Saudi Arabia, sparking an online backlash. Israel’s Channel 13 News aired a report on Monday where journalist Gil Tamary drove past Masjid Al Haram and climbed the Mount Arafat. pic.twitter.com/cmEL4A5F8a— 5Pillars (@5Pillarsuk) July 21, 2022
An Israeli journalist has breached a total ban on non-Muslim access to Islam’s holiest site in Makkah, Saudi Arabia, sparking an online backlash. Israel’s Channel 13 News aired a report on Monday where journalist Gil Tamary drove past Masjid Al Haram and climbed the Mount Arafat. pic.twitter.com/cmEL4A5F8a
Meanwhile, the Saudi National, whose identity has not been made public, is said to be a driver. In his defence he said he was unaware that the said journalist was non-Muslim.
On the other hand, Gil Tamary admitted what he was doing was outlawed but said he wanted to showcase "a place that is so important to our Muslim brothers and sisters".
Tamary's justification of his illegal entry into the Holy Places did little to quiet angry Saudi social media responses.
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