Israeli journalist sneaks into Mecca triggering online backlash | News

An Israeli journalist has breached a complete ban on non-Muslim entry to Islam’s holiest web site in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, triggering a web-based backlash and doubtlessly straining rising ties between Tel Aviv and Gulf nations.

Israel’s Channel 13 Information aired a 10-minute report on Monday during which journalist Gil Tamary drove previous the Grand Mosque that homes the cube-shaped Kaaba, the holiest shrine in Islam, and climbed the Mount of Mercy.

Tamary, who was accompanied by a neighborhood information whose face was blurred to forestall identification, lowered his voice whereas chatting with the digicam in Hebrew and at instances switched to English to keep away from revealing himself as Israeli.

The report was billed as a scoop and the journalist the primary Jewish Israeli reporter to doc the annual Muslim pilgrimage of Hajj.

The footage obtained a powerful on-line backlash, with the Twitter hashtag “A Jew in Mecca’s Grand Mosque” trending after the report was aired.

Among the many critics was Mohammed Saud, a pro-Israel Saudi activist. “My expensive mates in Israel, a journalist of yours entered town of Mecca, holy to Islam, and filmed there shamelessly,” he mentioned.

“Disgrace on you Channel 13, for hurting the faith of Islam like that. You might be impolite.”

Israel’s regional cooperation minister Esawi Freij, who’s Muslim, denounced Tamary’s report as “silly and dangerous” to Israel-Gulf ties.

“It was irresponsible and damaging to air this report only for the sake of scores,” he added.

Apology

Tamary, who was in Jeddah overlaying United States President Joe Biden’s go to on Friday, apologised after the net backlash saying he had not supposed to offend Muslims.

“If anybody takes offence to this video, I deeply apologize,” he wrote in English on Twitter.

“The aim of this complete endeavour was to showcase the significance of Mecca and the great thing about the faith, and in doing so, foster extra non secular tolerance and inclusion,” he added.

The journalist claimed “inquisitiveness is on the coronary heart and heart of journalism” and that his reporting had been guided by the will to permit individuals to “see, for the primary time, a spot that’s so necessary to our Muslim brothers and sisters, and to human historical past”.

The Mount of Mercy oversees the plain of Arafat, revered because the place the place the Prophet Muhammad held his final sermon 14 centuries in the past.

Mecca is probably the most sacred place of worship for Muslims on this planet, adopted by the Prophet’s Mosque in Medina and the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.

Solely Muslims are allowed to go to Mecca, whereas non-Muslims can’t enter. The breach of this rule can lead to a effective or deportation.

Mending ties

Saudi media, tightly managed by the federal government, didn’t cowl the story. It was unclear whether or not authorities had accepted the journalist’s Mecca journey.

Israel and Saudi Arabia don’t have any diplomatic relations, and the dominion doesn’t recognise Israel as a state.

However behind the scenes, the 2 sides have been working collectively on safety points for a while, with a typical concern over the rising affect within the area of their widespread enemy Iran.

Saudi Arabia mentioned final week it could open its airspace to all air carriers, paving the way in which for extra overflights to and from Israel, in an extra signal that relations between the 2 international locations are warming.

The Biden administration desires Saudi Arabia to be its personal addition to the normalisation offers referred to as the “Abraham Accords”, a course of underneath former President Donald Trump that noticed Israel normalise ties with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco and Sudan.