The Saudi Arabian Embassy in Manila has issued a warning that entry of non-Muslims into the cities of Mecca and Medina, the two holy places in Islam, is strictly prohibited, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Tuesday. Oscar G. Valenzuela, DFA Assistant Secretary for Middle East and African Affairs, said transgressors are subject to severe punishment if caught. He said the Saudi Arabian Embassy has warned that such infractions may have serious religious repercussions.
Reports reaching the DFA said false certificates of Muslim identity have been used by some overseas workers to illegally enter Saudi Arabia as umrah and hajj pilgrims. The Office of Muslim Affairs earlier warned that persons found in possession of or attempting to obtain false certificates of Muslim identity will be prosecuted.
Religious scholars have issued a fatwa prohibiting women from using the Internet without the presence of a mahram (a close relative they are prohibited to marry). This was followed by a call from Saudi businessmen to sue Web sites that call for freedom of thought and secularism, such as the aforementioned Web sites.
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