The Saudi Arabian government has banned pilgrims from taking photos and videos using any devices for any purpose at Makkah’s Grand Mosque and Masjid-e-Nabvi in Madinah.
The development surfaces days after Russian-born Israeli Jew Ben Tzion posted a selfie of a visit to Masjid-e-Nabvi, prompting backlash from certain individuals on social media. Instagram later suspended his account.
The change in policy was communicated by the Kingdom’s Foreign Ministry through a diplomatic note sent to foreign representatives in the country.
Saudi authorities stated that the measure was imposed to protect and preserve two of Islam’s holiest sites, prevent the disturbance of worshippers, and ensure tranquillity while performing acts of worship.
In recent years, many pilgrims to both holy sites have posted pictures on Instagram and Facebook, ranging from posing in front of the Holy Kaaba, to taking selfies on the upper floor of the Grand Mosque and standing under the umbrella-like canopies at Masjid-e-Nabvi (PBUH).
“In the case of any violation of the ban, security guards have been instructed to confiscate the photos and the camera if needed,” the Saudi government’s statement said, adding that the change should be disseminated to every Hajj and Umrah tour operator in their respective countries.