A blind man who regained his sight in Mecca turned out to be less than miraculous
Crowds of pilgrims at Mecca's Grand Mosque (AFP)
A miraculous video of a blind Egyptian man, suddenly able to see again after praying in Mecca’s Masjid al-Haram. It could hardly have been more perfect for the first days of Ramadan.
The clip – of a man speaking in an Egyptian accent, seen in joyous celebration after apparently being cured of blindness – was shared by thousands of social media faithful.
It shows the man repeating expressions that can be roughly translated as "I got my sight back again, God. Thank you God. Congratulation Hajj, Allahu Akbar", then hugging and kissing the men around him as they film the scene on their phones.
But the joy at his sight was muddied by a more shameful story. As reports circulated in the news and social media, the touching tale was quickly replaced by a new narrative: that the man wasn’t blind at all, but a professional thief who was using opportunity to nab the phones and wallets of pilgrims.
Doubt that the reported miracle wasn't quite what it seemed was exposed by a few sharp-eyed observers, who noticed a dead giveaway in the video. Can you spot the clue?
اللهم لك الحمد ، مصري رجع له النظر مساء أمس في مكة المكرمة— فالح البقمي (@FALEH_M7) 6 June 2016
بس عندي سؤال .. كفيف ولابس ساعة في يده
بصدق عجزت pic.twitter.com/9x8Ypbd8PP
Thank god, an Egyptian’s sight returned yesterday at Mecca
But I have a question… The blind guy is wearing a watch on his hand.
Honestly I give up.
Actually, two clues:
ونظاره https://t.co/kxzFIpjG4v— د.عبدالله المطرود (@almatarod) 6 June 2016
As it turns out, it’s uncommon for those who can’t see to wear wristwatches. News articles across Arab-language news and social media – which al Bawaba also reported – went on to claim that the man was a professional pickpocket.
But that wasn't the end of the story.
A few days after the video went viral, Huffington Post reported that the tourism police had denied detaining a man at the Grand Mosque – and that a man claiming to be the son of the man in the film had provided a different version of events on Facebook.
Tamer Sayyed said his father had been suffering from a blood clot in only one of his eyes, and faced the prospect of permanently losing his sight. It was this that was cured at Mecca, not full-blown blindness.
However, it wasn't confirmed that the man that made the Facebook post was actually the son of the accused man.
Note: Parts of the original story have been changed to reflect new reports.
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