The Governor of Makkah has ordered a probe in the case of a policeman leaning on the Kaaba with his shoes against the wall.
Prince Mishal Bin Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz said that such an attitude could not be tolerated and called for disciplinary action against the policeman for failing to live up to the privilege and honour of serving in such a place.
In Arab culture, displaying the sole of one’s foot or touching someone, or something sacred, with a shoe or with feet is considered highly offensive.
A picture of the policeman leaning on the sacred cube triggered a heated debate on social networks in the Muslim world with reactions ranging from gentle understanding of his condition after hours of confronting challenges to outright condemnation for not respecting the sanctity of the place.
Prince Mishal told the head of the Makkah police Abdul Aziz Al Sooli to hold dedicated workshops and training sessions to educate the security and civilian staff at the Grand Mosque on ways of behaving and of dealing with people in order to offer the best services, local news site Sabq reported on Tuesday.
Officials initially said that the security man was not wearing shoes, but rubber sockets that staff at the Grand Mosque used regularly.
In 2008, in a display of his revulsion to the American occupation of his country, Iraqi journalist Muntadhar Al Zaidi hurled his shoes at then US president George Bush as they conducted a press conference in Baghdad.
Muslims often refrain from allowing their shoes to be turned upside down in order to avoid the sole from ‘facing God’. It is also customary to take off shoes before entering mosques and homes.