Muslim pilgrims circle the Ka'aba inside the Grand Mosque in Makkah, Saudi Arabia for the annual Haj pilgrimage. Image Credit: AP

Manama: An Indian national has been detained in Saudi Arabia after he posted a picture on a social network showing the Grand Mosque in Makkah, Islam’s holiest mosque, as a Hindu temple.

The picture, displayed on Facebook, showed Al Masjid Al Haram, but instead of the Kaaba, the cuboid building at the centre of Islam’s most sacred mosque, there were Hindu symbols, local daily Okaz reported on Tuesday.

Muslims in Makkah are expected to face the Kaaba when performing their prayers, while Muslims outside must face the sacred city.

A Saudi national, shocked by the picture, alerted the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice, the religious police, and an investigation was launched.

The suspect, reportedly arrested by the police at the airport, admitted the social network page was his, but said that he had seen a link to the picture on another account and that he had to click “Like” to enable him to see it. The picture was automatically loaded onto his account for his followers to see, he added.

However, the investigators decided that he was guilty of breaking the anti-cyber crime law by promoting an offensive picture.

Under the law, anyone who is involved in the production, preparation, transmission, or storage of material impinging on public order, religious values, public morals, and privacy, through the information network or computers, can be jailed up to five years and made to pay a fine of up to 3 million riyals (Dh2.94 million.)

The law also forbids the construction or publicising of a website on the information network or computer to promote or facilitate human trafficking, the preparation, publication, and promotion of material for pornographic or gambling sites that violates public morals. The construction or publicising of a website on the information network or computer to trade in, distribute, demonstrate method of use or facilitate dealing in narcotic and psychotropic drugs is also banned under the law.