Saudi Arabia 'bans selfies' in Makkah and Medina
Saudi Authorities have reportedly moved to ban pilgrims from taking pictures and recording footage at Islam's two holiest sites, according to various reports.
The ban reportedly came into effect on November 12 and applies to the compound of Makkah's Grand Mosque, known as Masjid al-Haram, and Medina's Masid an-Nabawi, where the tomb of the Prophet Muhammad is housed, according to Turkey's Daily Sabah.
According to The Jakarta Post, the new restrictions were communicated to foreign envoys in the kingdom. Indonesia's embassy in Riyadh reportedly received the new guidance in a letter on November 15.
Malaysia's Pilgrims Fund Board, however, has said it has not received to guidance and will update pilgirims once official word is received from Riyadh, the country's official Bernama news agency reported.
It is thought to have come in response to an increasing trend in recent years of pilgrims pausing to pose for photos in front of the Kaabah in Makkah, as well as around various other points of interest in the two cities.
These selfies have been posted on social media platforms, most notably by Muslim celebrities and sports personalities.
"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 statement quoted by said, adding that governments should inform all Hajj and Umrah operaters in their respective countries.
Recently, an Israeli blogger sparked controversy by posting selfies taken in Masid an-Nabawi to his personal instagram page.
Non-Muslims are banned by law from entering the two holy cities, however the outrage at Times of Israel writer Ben Tzion's posts was likely heighted due to ongoing speculation about a warming in relations between Riyadh and Tel Aviv.
After docial media backlash, Tzion's Instagram page was taken down from the social media platform.