File photo of a group of pilgrims performing Umrah in the Grand Mosque. Image Credit: Reuters

Dubai: An Egyptian preacher, Amir Mounir, has been arrested following the launch of a new Umrah application that caused a growing controversy. The app purportedly facilitates individuals who are unable to undertake the Umrah pilgrimage themselves to hire others to go in their stead, a proposition that has sparked heated debate across various platforms.

In a video shared on his Facebook account, which commands a following of millions, Mounir explained the workings of the app. Users who wish, but are unable to perform the Umrah pilgrimage, can pay a fee of 4,000 Egyptian pounds (approximately $130) to have someone else complete the pilgrimage on their behalf. Additionally, the app allows for the pilgrimage to be carried out on behalf of deceased loved ones or sick family members.

Mounir justified the development of the app by highlighting the various hurdles people face while planning for Umrah, including the prohibitive costs of flights and visas as well as other logistical challenges. He emphasized that the app was developed with the intent to ease the process for those desiring to undertake the pilgrimage.

However, the announcement of the app has been met with a flurry of criticism, with many accusing Mounir of commercializing a sacred religious ritual for financial gain. Critics argue that the app promotes the unacceptable practice of allowing individuals to perform the pilgrimage as proxies for others who cannot do so themselves.

The App has prompted authorities to arrest the preacher for further investigation.