Saudi citizen referred to public prosecution for helping Israeli journalist into Makkah

Gil Tamari's video caused outrage after he was seen trespassing at holy sites

Gil Tamari's visit to Makkah in Saudi Arabia caused widespread offence. Photo: Youtube screengrab
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A media spokesman for the Makkah regional police said on Friday that a Saudi citizen has been referred to the prosecutors for being complicit in assisting a non-Muslim journalist to visit Makkah.

The unnamed Saudi has been arrested and legal measures taken against him, Makkah Police reported.

In a clear breach of the regulations that prohibit non-Muslims to enter the kingdom's holy sites, Israeli journalist Gil Tamari filmed a 10-minute report that was broadcast on Channel 13 News.

Tamari was in Saudi Arabia to cover the visit of US President Joe Biden on Friday.

The video features a blurred face of the driver of the car in which Tamari travels to the Grand Mosque.

As he crosses into Islam's holiest site, Tamari says in English: “Now I can say I was in Makkah.”

“We decided to drive straight on, on a road intended for Muslims only. After the security check, the Saudi policeman ordered us to continue driving towards Makkah,” Tamari said in the video.

Saudi Arabia's Public Security issued a statement emphasising that “all coming to the kingdom, must respect the regulations and abide by what it requires, especially with regard to the two holy mosques and the holy sites, and that any violation of this kind is considered a crime that will not be tolerated, and penalties will be applied to its perpetrators based on the relevant regulations”.

After his report sparked widespread outrage on communication sites, Tamari was forced to apologise through his Twitter page, saying: “I would like to repeat that this visit to Makkah was not intended to offend Muslims or anyone else. If anyone feels offended by this video I sincerely apologise. The whole purpose of this endeavour was to highlight the importance and beauty of Makkah.”

Timelapse and aerials of Hajj 2022

An aerial view shows the clock tower over the Grand mosque as Muslim pilgrims walk around the Kaaba, the black cube seen at center inside the grand mosque, during the annual hajj pilgrimage in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, Sunday, July 10, 2022.  This year’s pilgrimage marks the largest since the coronavirus struck, although the influx of 1 million worshippers remains less than half of the pre-pandemic attendance.  (AP Photo / Amr Nabil) (AP Photo / Amr Nabil)
Updated: July 22, 2022, 11:30 AM