News of a Saudi selfie ban on holy grounds sounds familiar that’s because it is Previously in 2017 the Saudi government banned pilgrims from taking photos and videos at Makkah’s Grand Mosque and Masjid-i-Nabvi in Medina. The ban extended to all sorts of footage using any devices for any purpose.
Ban was imposed following backlash from Ben Tzion’s selfie at Masjid-i-Nabvi. Russian-born Israeli Jew Ben Tzion posted a selfie of a visit in 2017 to Masjid-i-Nabvi on Instagram. When the video went viral, certain right-wing religious factions was irritated. Travel blogger Tzion later explained how he was there as a guest.
Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Ministry announced the ban through a diplomatic note sent to foreign representatives in the country. The measure was imposed to protect and preserve two of Islam’s holiest sites, prevent the disturbance of worshipers and ensure tranquility while performing acts of worship.
In recent years, many pilgrims to both holy sites have posted pictures on Instagram and Facebook, ranging from posing in front of the Kaaba, to taking selfies on the upper floor of the Grand Mosque to standing under the umbrella-like canopies at Nabawi Mosque.
Some have even posed in groups, carrying banners or flags of their respective countries in the yards of the two mosques. Critics have said such “touristy acts” detracted from the essence of a pilgrimage as they raised questions about whether the pilgrimage was just a trip to take photos.
In the case of any violation of the ban, security guards have been instructed to confiscate the photos and the camera if needed, the statement adding that the change should be disseminated to every haj and umrah tour operator in their respective countries.