Sisi mocked for praying ‘backwards’ in Mecca
Egypt's Sisi was engaged in the Umrah pilgrimage at Islam’s holiest site when the photo was taken, during a visit to the kingdom for the Saudi-hosted Islamic summit in Mecca.
It is typical for state leaders of Muslim backgrounds to take official photographs when performing the pilgrimage, though on this particular occasion, the image didn't go quite as planned for Sisi.
Despite Sisi's look of concentration, many were quick to notice he was facing the complete opposite direction to where Muslims traditionally turn to when making a supplicatory prayer, known as a dua.
Arabs on social media promptly noticed and mocked him for, essentially, praying backwards.
Sisi's spokesperson's Facebook page appears to be heavily regulated, with the majority of commenters praising whom they refer to as their "excellency".
|Translation: The Ka'aba is behind you!!!!|
However, the replies to Sisi's official Twitter account were more colourful, with Arabs pointing out Sisi's ritualistic faux pas.
Unlike the obligatory salat prayer, where Muslims take part in ritualistic prayer five times a day, it is not compulsory to face the Ka’aba when making dua.
However, it is highly encouraged as it is believed those supplicating whilst facing the Ka’aba are more likely to have their prayers answered - an orthodox tradition practiced and respected by millions to this day.
Despite being notebly conservative with the repression of liberal activists, including the LGBTQ+ community, the Egyptian state has attempted to steer away from orthodox Islamic rituals to instigate what Sisi in early 2015 referred to as a "religious revolution".
Since Sisi took over Egypt in a blooded coup in June 2013, Egyptian scholars allied with state institutions have consistently made bizzare rulings, many of which toe the line of state policy.
Last month, the Israeli Foreign Ministry's Arabic-language Twitter account posted footage of an Egyptian cleric urging people to not curse the name of the Jewish state.
"Did you know that insulting Israel is haram (forbidden)?" the government-run account said.
The ministry cited Khaled al-Gindi - a well-known pro-government sheikh - as the source of the religious edict.
"Don't insult Israel.. the word 'Israel' is the name of a prophet in Islam. Take care to not let your tongue slip and insult this word," Gindi says in a clip taken from a religious programme.
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