Saudi authorities on Friday arrested several Pakistani pilgrims for hunting and chanting insulting slogans against Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and his delegation at the Masjid-i-Nabwi in the holy city of Medina, the Saudi Arabian embassy in Islamabad said on Friday. confirmed.
According to the Saudi embassy media director, the protesters were taken into custody for “violating regulations” and “disrespecting” the sanctity of the revered mosque by chanting “chor chor” (thieves) as soon as they saw the prime minister, reported the Pakistani newspaper Dawn.
The newly appointed prime minister is making a three-day visit to Saudi Arabia — his first foreign trip since taking office — along with a delegation including Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari.
The delegation, which went to pray to the Prophet’s mosque after arriving in Medina on Thursday, faced protests and chants at the holy mosque, drawing attention to the videos circulating on social media.
Prime Minister Sharif and his son Hamza are accused of money laundering. They have denied all allegations, claiming that the cases against them were politically motivated.
Another video showed the pilgrims complaining and chanting insulting slogans against federal ministers Marriyum Aurangzeb and Shahzain Bugti, who were accompanied by Saudi guards. A pilgrim was also seen pulling Bugti’s hair from behind.
In response to the harassment pilgrims face, Marriyum Aurangzeb said in a video message that the act was committed by a “select group”, while most Pakistanis respect the sanctity of the holy mosque.
“I don’t want to name the person responsible for this incident, because I don’t want to use this holy land for political purposes,” she added.
Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah said his ministry would ask the government of Saudi Arabia to take “appropriate measures” against Pakistani pilgrims.
“My ministry will humbly request the Saudi government to take appropriate action in this matter. We are going to convey the pain the nation felt at these incidents at Masjid-i-Nabwi,” he said.
Sanaullah said Saudi authorities would be asked to identify those involved in the incident so that they could be deported to Pakistan for being “not worthy of living on the holy land”.
Tahir Mahmood Ashrafi, chairman of Pakistan’s Ulema Council, condemned the incident and said Muslims are meant to bow their heads and lower their voices in Masjid-i-Nabwi instead of spreading dirty slogans and accusing the holy day of Ramzan.
Aseefa Bhutto-Zardari, sister of newly appointed Foreign Minister Bilawal, said the opposition party incited “intolerance and division” Prime Minister Imran Khan’s expelled Pakistani Tehreek-e-Insaf for the incident.
Religious scholar Maulana Tariq Jameel also tweeted that the protest at the holy mosque was not “acceptable in Islam”.
Meanwhile, PTI General Secretary Asad Umar claimed that respecting the sanctity of holy sites was a must for everyone.
(This story was not edited by NDTV staff and was generated automatically from a syndicated feed.)