World Asia 07 Feb 2017 Saudi man attempts s ...

Saudi man attempts self-immolation at Islam’s holiest site in Mecca

Published Feb 7, 2017, 6:44 pm IST
Updated Feb 7, 2017, 7:04 pm IST
 The Grand Mosque in the Muslim holy city of Mecca. (Photo: Representational/AP)
  The Grand Mosque in the Muslim holy city of Mecca. (Photo: Representational/AP)

Jeddah: Saudi security forces and pilgrims aborted an attempt by a Saudi national to set himself on fire next to the Kaaba inside Mecca's Grand Mosque, the Islam's holiest site, Police said on Tuesday.

The man wearing Umrah garb, identified as a Saudi national in his 40s, was dousing himself in gasoline when he was caught, police spokesman Major Sameh al-Salmi said.

"He was held before he went on with his dramatic self-immolation act and his behaviour indicates that he is mentally ill. All the necessary measures will be taken," Saudi news site Sabq quoted the spokesman as saying.

A 23-second video, posted on social media, showed dozens of pilgrims around the assailant as he was pouring gasoline on himself beside the Kaaba on Monday evening. Police and pilgrims overpowered the man and escorted him away before he could light the petrol.

Citing security forces at the Grand Mosque, the Gulf News said the man was "trying to kill himself and not attempting to set the sacred cubic structure ablaze as reported."

Earlier media reports claimed that the man was spilling gasoline on the kiswah, the black and gold silk curtain that covers the Kaaba - the cubical structure at the center of the sacred mosque.

One eyewitness told Sabq that the man had been uttering "takfiri" slogans, referring to extremist Islamist groups like Islamic State and al-Qaeda.

Kaaba is central for all Muslims who are required to look its direction when they perform their prayers five times a day, and during the Haj or Umrah (minor haj), pilgrims walk counterclockwise around it seven times.

Muslims believe the Kaaba was originally built by Prophet Abraham and his son Ismael who also placed the sacred black stone in one of its corners.

In November 1979, the Grand Mosque was seized by over 400 fundamentalists who seized pilgrims as hostages. Special forces fought fierce gun battles with the militants to retake the mosque compound.

Location: Saudi Arabia, Riyadh, Riyadh


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