Saudi Arabia has arrested a man who posted a video of himself inside the Grand Mosque of Mecca saying that he was on a pilgrimage for the soul of Queen Elizabeth II.
The footage of the man who appeared in a video inside the mosque built around the Kaaba, the holiest Islamic site in all of Islam, quickly went viral on social media on Monday, and he was detained later that evening.
“The special forces of the security of the Grand Mosque arrested a resident of Yemeni nationality who appeared in a video clip carrying a banner inside the Grand Mosque, violating the regulations and guidelines for umrah,” the interior ministry of Saudi Arabia said in a statement.
Umrah is a non-mandatory pilgrimage that includes visits to Mecca and Medina throughout the year. Every year millions of Muslims worldwide travel to see the holiest sights and perform religious rites.
The man, who was wearing a generic white pilgrimage costume, held a banner handwritten in both Arabic and English saying, “Umrah for the soul of Queen Elizabeth II, may Allah grant her a place in heaven and accept her among the righteous people.”
People generally take photos while on pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia, and sometimes that includes shoutouts and banners with different messages, but security has been tightened after an Israeli journalist snuck into the Hajj, the major Muslim pilgrimage, in July.
The interior ministry said that the man had broken pilgrimage guidelines. They said: “He was detained, and legal measures were taken against him, and he was referred to the public prosecution.”
The Saudi government bans non-Muslims from entering the designated holy cities in the kingdom. But controversies still occasionally arise, as millions of people visit every year.
The death of Queen Elizabeth II has received wide public attention in the Middle East.