Tunisia pop-star Latifa says Saudi 'ban' prevented her from performing Mecca pilgrimage
A Tunisian pop star has said Saudi authorities have banned her from entering the kingdom, preventing her from performing pilgrimage to Islam's holiest site Mecca.
Latifa made the comments in a televised interview with the Saudi-funded MBC on Monday.
The singer said airport authorities stopped her from entering the country in 2011 and forced her to return to Dubai, where she was coming from.
"I have been in shock since that day… every time Ramadan comes it hits me that I cannot perform pilgrimage to Mecca," Latifa said, as she broke into tears.
"I have been unfairly treated and until now I don't know the reason why," she added.
The Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca is one of the five pillars of Islam and all Muslims who are able to must perform it at least once in their lives. The Hajj is the major pilgrimage and the Umrah is the minor pilgrimage.
Riyadh has long been accused of using the site, which is the most revered in Islam, as a tool to exert political pressure or punish its opponents.
Last year, an Algeria poet was banned from entering Saudi Arabia to attend the Hajj over his satirical writing targeting the Saudi royal family, The New Arab's Arabic-language service reported.