As more than two million Muslims have performed Hajj during the weekend in Islam’s holiest place, Mecca, Saudi Arabia, a photo of Turkish pilgrims surrounding female pilgrims in a bid to protect them has gone viral on the internet for confusing reasons.
The photo that showed a group of Turkish male pilgrims surrounding women while performing one of the Hajj rituals in Mecca. The main aim of sharing it was to hail those men for protecting women, yet, not everyone saw it that way.
of course muslim twitter would try to make this shit seem beautiful.— NiMū (@malistkiss) August 12, 2019
imagine being a woman and having to be protected during HAJJ. imagine being groped/ sexually harassed during HAJJ. no woman should have to go through this, it’s disgusting https://t.co/AitkqMgyyD
Many have considered this photo as offensive as it highlights one of the biggest issues women face during Hajj as they are in danger of being assaulted and sexually harassed in a sacred place such as Mecca, where pilgrims are meant to be performing religious rituals.
Do you think it's beautiful that these men have to protect these women from being sexually harassed during Hajj, of all places and moments? I think it's horrible that women can't even perform their religious pilgrimage without fear of getting raped and assaulted.— زینب ♎ (@zeynab_ah1) August 13, 2019
Some women have even shared their own experiences of being assaulted during Hajj on the thread.
I graduated university and went to ummrah in 2015 and was groped by so many men in tawaf and it was the most violating thing I have ever experienced— Shahd (@hadyouatsalaam) August 13, 2019
Meanwhile, others have discredited stories of harassment.
most of the women in the pic are old, who would like to harass them.I have been in Makkah thousands times, there’s no harassment in there.The men surrounded women to protect them from getting lost or falling down since they are in a foreign country with a foreign language.racism— Ab.Alhajri (@ab_kw65) August 12, 2019
This is not the first time the issue of sexual harassment during Hajj is brought to the spotlight.
Earlier in 2018, dozens of women have spoken up about being groped and sexually harassed by men during Hajj in a wave prompted by the Egyptian-American feminist and journalist Mona Eltahawy, who was the first ever to speak about her experience in the 1980s when she was sexually assaulted twice while performing Hajj with other family members.
I have shared my experience of being sexually assaulted during Haj in 1982 when I was 15 in the hope that it will help fellow Muslim women break silence and taboo around their experience of sexual harassment/abuse during Haj/Umra or in sacred spaces. Let’s use #MosqueMeToo https://t.co/uDsZFDolgX— Mona Eltahawy (@monaeltahawy) February 6, 2018
Following the steps of Mona, stories of other women started to flow narrating details of their horrifying experiences in Mecca using hashtag #MosqueMeToo. The hashtag has gathered momentum again in 2019 as pilgrims have started performing Hajj in Mecca in August.
Some creep just grabbed my butt right outside Masjid Al Haram, Mecca. I was wearing hijab and loose clothes, covered from head to toe. Not that we needed further proof but here it is - it’s never what the girl is wearing, or what she is doing. It’s always the man.— Nadwa ?❓ (@nadwaa_) June 2, 2019
Earlier last year and after more women have jumped on the campaign and shared their stories, Saudi Arabia was prompted to pass an anti-harassment law criminalizing sexual harassment and punishing all violators.
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