Saudi Arabia says no more to ‘selfies’, photos and videos at Holy Sites

The recent photos and selfies of a Jewish blogger visiting the Masjid-e-Nabwi in Saudi Arabia set a firestorm on the social media of Middle Eastern countries along with other Muslim countries in the world.

Even though Ben Tzion, a blogger who has a history of posing and taking photos at Muslim religious places claimed that he took photos in good faith, his photos at the holiest places sparked a debate.

Many Muslims believed that Ben Tzion was making fun of the Muslim world by taking photos at the holiest of all places Masjid-e-Nabwi.

In a response to the widespread anger, Saudi Arabia has outrightly banned anyone regardless of their religion and ethnicity from taking photos and making videos inside the holy sites of the country. In an official statement, the authorities said:

In the event of a violation of the ban, imposed to ensure the carrying out of worship in a healthier way, tools used to take photos and videos will be confiscated and legal action will be taken.

Ben Tzions response to photos being banned

Ben Tzion is a Russian and Israeli national who is a known blogger on the internet. He is known for taking photos in Muslim religious sites around the world. In an interview to the press, he said that he did not take the photos to make fun of Muslims.

So I did not take a selfie to make fun of them, as some people claim now. I asked for permission. And I pointed to my #Hebrew name on the bag to show, “Look, I am a Jew, and I come with #Peace.”

He also said that his intention was clear and he only wanted to know more about the life of Muslims and their culture in Saudi Arabia. He said he was particularly interested in Holy places and wanted to experience them with his own eyes.

I wanted to know more about their life there, what makes their culture. I was curious: in what kind of houses do they live, what pictures hang on their walls? Besides, I was very interested in the holy places. I had read about it but wanted to experience it with my own eyes. I wanted to try to #Understand. You know, when people are afraid of something, that means they have not understood. #Hatred comes from the #Ignorance of foreign cultures.

Taking photos inside Masjid-e-Nabwi and other Holy Sites

Before the Saudi authorities banned taking photos inside holy places, a lot of people from around the world actively took photos inside these holy sites. In Pakistan, taking photos in these holy sites have always met with mix reactions.

The result of Saudi Arabia banning photos and videos at holy sites has largely been welcomed by Pakistanis.

From this point onwards, no one will be allowed to take phones, cameras or anything that is capable of taking photos or recording a video inside the most prominent holy sites in Saudi Arabia.