Cii Radio| Ayesha Ismail| 22 November 2017| 03 Rabi ul Awal 1439
Images posted by an Israeli blogger inside the Mosque of the Prophet Muhammad in the Muslim holy city of Medina in Saudi Arabia sparked outrage across the region this week over what many said was the religious insensitivity and double standards of Saudi authorities.
Ben Tzion, a blogger and writer for the Times of Israel, shared on his Instagram account pictures of himself dressed in traditional Saudi clothing inside the Prophet’s mosque, as well as a video of a sermon likely taken during the same visit.
Tzion posted the images with the caption: “Jewish and Arab people share common history and blood lineage to Abraham/Ibrahim. With love and mutual respect, peace would come to the entire Middle East region.”
The blogger was officially invited to Riyadh to attend the annual Misk Global Forum, which was held on November 15-16, and his visit to Medina was likely part of the same trip.
Tzion’s Instagram page has since been taken down from the social media platform.
The Prophet’s Mosque in the city of Medina is Islam’s second holiest site, and alongside Mecca, is regarded as a one of the two Holy Sanctuaries which can only be visited by those professing the Muslim faith.
The Saudi royal family has long cast itself as the guardians of the Two Holy Sanctuaries.
The release of the images along with deluge of reports of Saudi-Israeli normalisation have been taken as a rupture of one of the principle social pacts between the Saudi royal family and the general populace.
With Saudi authorities having previously arrested non-Muslims visiting the sanctuaries, social media users railed against the hypocrisy of the Saudi authorities as well as the insensitivity of the Israeli blogger.
Many voiced outrage and suggested that the images reflect the normalisation of relations between Saudi Arabia and Israel.
There has been no official reaction from Saudi Arabia to Tzion’s posts.
The kingdom continues to deny any official relations with Israel, despite the deluge of recent reports claiming rapprochement between the two states.
In the face of the continued expansion of illegal Israeli settlements in Palestinian territories and Saudi Arabia’s assertion to lead both the Arab and Muslim worlds, the reported rapprochement of the governments of Benyamin Netanyahu and Mohammad bin Salman seems to be gathering pace against a common Iranian foe.