'Fake pilgrim' jailed for sexual harassment in Masjid al-Haram

'Fake pilgrim' jailed for sexual harassment in Masjid al-Haram
Blog: Illicit Mecca visitor sentenced to four years in prison and 1,000 lashes after a Saudi court found him guilty of sexual harassment in the vicinity of the sacred Kaabah.
2 min read
28 Aug, 2015
Millions of Muslims visit the Kaabah every year on holy pilgrimage [Anadolu]
A criminal court in the Saudi city of Mecca has sentenced a foreign resident to four years in prison and 1,000 lashes, followed by deportation, after he was found guilty of sexual harassment near the Kaabah, the Muslim world's most sacred site, where millions of Muslims flock every year to perform hajj, the holy pilgrimage.

According to Saudi newspaper al-Watan, the incident is the first of its kind. The verdict is final and does not allow for appeals.

Sources told al-Watan that the defendant was arrested as he harassed women around the Kaabah during the holy pilgrimage. After his arrest, police found he was wearing "normal clothes" under the traditional hajj garments, which, according to them, showed he was not there for the holy task, but rather to harass women.

Sexual harassment is a major issue in Saudi Arabia, a country known for its strict enforcement of an interpretation of the Islamic Sharia law.

Last month, a video posted online showing the sexual harassment of two young women by a group of men in Saudi Arabia went viral, racking up over 1.5 million views in one week.

In another viral video from 2013, young men were arrested for harassment after a video surfaced. They were flogged inside the mall where the harrassment occurred, in addition to receiving jail sentences of between one month and five months.

At the moment, Saudi law does not criminalise sexual harassment. Last year, a draft law was proposed to the Consultative Assembly, but it was dropped after some members thought it would lead to men and women "mixing together".

The proposed law would have punished harassers with sentences of up to one year in prison and fines of 100,000 Saudi Riyals ($26,666).

Despite the lack of laws, pressure from Saudi Arabia's active online community often results in the harassers being arrested and tried.