Saudi Arabia: Asian immigrant forced to clean mosques for 'skipping prayers'

Riyadh, 18 Nov. (AKI) - A Saudi civil court has ordered an Asian immigrant to clean mosques next month during this year's Hajj pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca after religious police caught him skipping Friday prayers several times, Saudi daily al-Watan reports. The man will have to clean five mosques along the highway into Mecca twice daily for eleven days, the court ruled.

The Ministry of Islamic Affairs will be tasked with checking if the immigrant obeys the court order. If he fails to do so, the court has warned that he will be tried before a criminal court.

Instead of handing out custodial sentences, a number of Saudi judges have recently ordered minor offenders to clean buildings and cars, memorise the Koran (the Muslim holy book) or do community work.

Earlier this month, a judge ordered a young man to memorise part of the Koran and 40 sayings of the Prophet Mohammed as a punishment for appearing in public with a woman who was not a relative.

This year's Hajj is taking place in the first half of December. Last year, two million Muslim pilgrims attended.

The Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam. It is an obligation for all able-bodied Muslims to attend at least once during their lives, provided they can afford it.


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