FACT CHECK: Image Claims To Show Cleaner Praying At Mecca’s Kaaba During The Coronavirus Pandemic
An image shared on Facebook purportedly shows a cleaner, allegedly the only person allowed near the Kaaba during the coronavirus pandemic, kneeling in prayer.
The man has been identified as a police officer. The photo has been digitally altered to remove two additional people.
Located at the center of the Grand Mosque in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, the Kaaba is considered the holiest building in Islam. Muslims are religiously expected to make the Hajj, a pilgrimage to the Kaaba that occurs annually, at least once in their life if they are able.
The Facebook post features an image of a lone individual, who allegedly is the only one allowed to be there, praying near the Kaaba, with the caption claiming, “The only person allowed to sit here!! He is a cleaner, not a king, not a minister, neither a Prince.. Allah chose him over the others.”
Through a reverse image search, the Daily Caller discovered that the image has been digitally manipulated. In the original picture, taken by photographer Amr Nabil for The Associated Press, two additional people stand beside the barrier around the Kaaba. They have been digitally removed from the photo being shared on social media. (RELATED: Has Poland Refused To Allow The Building Of Mosques?)
The person the Facebook post identifies as a cleaner is actually a police officer, according to The Associated Press’ caption. It reads, “A Saudi policeman prays in front of the Kaaba, the cubic building at the Grand Mosque, in the Muslim holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia, Saturday, March 7, 2020. Saudi Arabia emptied Islam’s holiest site for what they say sterilization over fears of the new coronavirus.”
On March 5, the Saudi government closed the Grand Mosque for cleaning in an effort to curb the spread of coronavirus, according to Business Insider. The area around the Kaaba reopened March 7 with new safety precautions to those not performing the Umrah, a voluntary pilgrimage to Mecca. Beginning March 20, the government suspended daily and weekly prayers at the Grand Mosque, according to Al Jazeera.
Despite thousands of mosques reopening in Saudi Arabia on May 31, the Grand Mosque remains closed to the public, per the Washington Post.