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Madinah: Protesters arrested for chanting slogans against Pakistan ministers at Prophet's Mosque

Saudi embassy has not confirmed how many people had been arrested nor did it identify them



Pakistan Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif visits Prophet’s Mosque in the holy city of Madinah, Saudi Arabia. - AP
Pakistan Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif visits Prophet’s Mosque in the holy city of Madinah, Saudi Arabia. - AP

By Agencies

Published: Fri 29 Apr 2022, 10:36 PM

Last updated: Fri 29 Apr 2022, 10:47 PM

The embassy of Saudi Arabia in Pakistan has said that “some” Pakistani pilgrims have been arrested for disrespecting Prophet’s Mosque in the holy city of Madinah by shouting slogans during the visit of Pakistani ministers to the holy mosque on Thursday.

The protesters were taken into custody by Saudi authorities for “violating the regulations” and “disrespecting” the sanctity of the holy mosque, media outlets in Pakistan quoted the embassy officials in Islamabad as saying.

This is the first reaction from Saudi Arabia over the incident that has been widely condemned in Pakistan. Unconfirmed reports on Thursday night claimed that up to 150 people had been arrested, including a UK-based Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf leader.

The Saudi embassy has not confirmed how many people had been arrested nor did it identify them. However, it said that the police action was still going on, hinting that more people could be arrested, Samaa TV said in a report.

Unfortunate scenes were witnessed at the holy mosque when Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and his entourage arrived there. According to videos circulating on social media, Pakistani pilgrims at the mosque started chanting slogans as soon as they saw the prime minister and members of his delegation.

In another video, the pilgrims could be seen heckling and chanting abusive slogans against federal ministers Marriyum Aurangzeb and Shahzain Bugti, as the pair was escorted by Saudi guards. A pilgrim can be seen pulling Bugti’s hair from behind.

Sharif was in a shuttle cart with Saudi officials and was guarded by Saudi security officers.

Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah claimed a press conference in Islamabad on Friday that the sloganeering was a planned act and the planning was done in Pakistan.

After the incident on Thursday night, Sharif and his ministers returned to the mosque again. They also offered Juma prayers at the mosque.

Later, in a video message in response to the chants, minister Aurangzeb said that the act was perpetrated by a “select group”, while most Pakistanis respected 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 also said she had prayed for guidance for such people. “However, it will take time for us to fix the ways in which these people have damaged our society and we can only do that through a positive attitude,” the minister added.

“The delegation prayed for the security of the country and the nation and for the development and prosperity of Pakistan,” a statement from the Prime Minister Office said.

Prime Minister Sharif arrived in the Saudi city of Jeddah on Friday on the second day of his visit to Saudi Arabia. Governor of Makkah Khalid bin Faisal Al Saud and Saudi Arabia’s National Security Adviser Dr Musaed Al Aiban received the prime minister.

During the visit, the prime minster will have meetings with the Saudi crown prince and other officials, with particular focus on advancing economic, trade and investment ties, and creation of greater opportunities for the Pakistani workforce in Saudi Arabia.

— agencies


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