December 12, 2012 at 3:00 am
Saudi plans indicate that commercial ambitions outweigh the protection of the spiritual and cultural history of Islam.
As noted in the Arab News, the top floor of the mataf would be altered to add a moving walkway carrying pilgrims around the Ka'bah. The new plan would provide access to the circumambulation area from outside the walls of the Grand Mosque, without crossing the floor of the mosque. Bridges and pedestrian lanes are to be included in the structure to "reduce crowding" during the Hajj, at the same time as, illogically, the Wahhabis claim they will greatly expand the capacity for pilgrims.
Saudi and other Muslim sources express concern that Al-Sudais and his Wahhabi accomplices are lying about their intentions in the project. Dr. Hatoon Al-Fassi, a female Meccan native, distinguished Sufi, and history professor at King Saud University in Riyadh, who, let it be noted, refuses to cover her face in public with the Wahhabi-imposed niqab or face veil, has accused the Saudi Bin Laden construction conglomerate, which is supervising the rebuilding of the mosque, of seeking to "turn Mecca into Las Vegas." Specifically, Al-Fassi charges that the reconstruction plans include "tearing down the ancient Ottoman-style galleries and rebuilding 'identical' galleries further away." Al-Fassi cites an unnamed official of the Saudi Ministry of Hajj Affairs as the source of this information.
Al-Fassi alleges further that the new galleries would support "new towers… featuring hotels, restaurants, and malls."
The precincts of the Grand Mosque already include new buildings, which house a clock tower and hotel complexes that dwarf the Mosque and the Ka'bah. Saudi plans indicate that commercial ambitions outweigh the protection of the spiritual and cultural legacy of Islam.
In an admission that the grandiose refurbishing of Mecca has harmed the Islamic heritage of the sacred city, Muhammad Abdullah Idris, author of the architectural upgrading study, told the Arab News that demolition blasts during erection of the outsized and overbearing recent structures near the Grand Mosque have undermined the strength of the mosque and, especially, its pillars.
Saudi King Abdullah ordered a halt to a proposed expansion of the Prophet's Mosque in Medina after a major article was published in The Independent (London) by the Islamic Heritage Research Foundation, exposing the Wahhabi plans and opposing to the concept. The article was re-published worldwide by other newspapers and generated significant media coverage. The Medina expansion would have involved serious historical vandalism. It is to be hoped that similar opposition will move the King to halt the defacement of the Grand Mosque in Mecca.