Saudi authorities have arrested a man who said he went to the Muslim holy city of Mecca to do an umrah pilgrimage for the late Queen Elizabeth II. The man, who is from Yemen, posted a video of himself on Monday at the Grand Mosque in Mecca, which is the holiest place in Islam and where non-Muslims are not allowed.
In the video, he held up a sign that said, “Umrah for the soul of Queen Elizabeth II. We ask God to accept her in heaven and count her among the righteous.” The video was shared a lot on Saudi social media, and people on Twitter called for the man to be arrested.
Saudi Arabia doesn’t let pilgrims to Mecca carry signs or shout slogans. Umrah can be done for dead Muslims, but not for non-Muslims like the queen, who was the head of the Church of England, which is the mother church of the worldwide Anglican communion.
A statement from state media late Monday said that security forces at the Grand Mosque had arrested a Yemeni citizen who was seen in a video carrying a banner inside the Grand Mosque. This was against the rules and instructions for umrah.
“He was taken into custody, legal action was taken against him, and he was sent to the public prosecutor.” The controversial video clip was shown on state television as part of a report about the event, but the banner was blurred.
The Umrah is a pilgrimage that can be done at any time, unlike the Hajj, which only happens once a year and draws millions of people from all over the world.
Thursday was the day the queen died, and her funeral is set for September 19.