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The Photos Saudi Arabia Doesn't Want Seen And Proof Islam's Most Holy Relics Are Being Demolished In Mecca

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Archaeologists fear billion-pound development has led to destruction of key historical sites

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The authorities in Saudi Arabia have begun dismantling some of the oldest sections of Islam’s most important mosque as part of a highly controversial multi-billion pound expansion.

Photographs obtained by The Independent reveal how workers with drills and mechanical diggers have started demolishing some Ottoman and Abbasid sections on the eastern side of the Masjid al-Haram in Mecca.

The building, which is also known as the Grand Mosque, is the holiest site in Islam because it contains the Kaaba – the point to which all Muslims face when praying. The columns are the last remaining sections of the mosque which date back more than a few hundred years and form the inner perimeter on the outskirts of the white marble floor surrounding the Kaaba.

The new photos, taken over the last few weeks, have caused alarm among archaeologists and come as Prince Charles – a long-term supporter of preserving architectural heritage – flew into Saudi Arabia yesterday for a visit with the Duchess of Cornwall. The timing of his tour has been criticised by human rights campaigners after the Saudis shot seven men in public earlier this week despite major concerns about their trial and the fact that some of the men were juveniles at the time of their alleged crimes.

Many of the Ottoman and Abbasid columns in Mecca were inscribed with intricate Arabic calligraphy marking the names of the Prophet Muhammad’s companions and key moments in his life. One column which is believed to have been ripped down is supposed to mark the spot where Muslims believe Muhammad began his heavenly journey on a winged horse, which took him to Jerusalem and heaven in a single night.

To accommodate the ever increasing number of pilgrims heading to the twin holy cities of Mecca and Medina each year the Saudi authorities have embarked upon a massive expansion project. Billions of pounds have been poured in to increase the capacity of the Masjid al-Haram and the Masjid an-Nabawi in Medina which marks where Muhammad is buried. King Abdullah has put the prominent Wahabi cleric and imam of the Grand Mosque, Abdul Rahman al-Sudais, in charge of the expansion while the Saudi Binladin Group – one of the country’s largest firms – has won the construction contract.

While there is little disagreement over the need to expand, critics have accused the Saudi regime of wantonly disregarding the archaeological, historical and cultural heritage of Islam’s two holiest cities. In the last decade Mecca has been transformed from a dusty desert pilgrimage town into a gleaming metropolis of skyscrapers that tower over the Masjid al-Haram and are filled with a myriad of shopping malls, luxury apartments and five star hotels. But such a transformation has come at a cost.

The Washington-based Gulf Institute estimates that 95 per cent of Mecca's millennium-old buildings have been demolished in the past two decades alone. Dozens of key historical sites dating back to the birth of Islam have already been lost and there is a scramble among archaeologists and academics to try and encourage the authorities to preserve what little remains.

Many senior Wahabis are vehemently against the preservation of historical Islamic sites that are linked to the prophet because they believe it encourages shirq – the sin of idol worshipping. But Dr Irfan al-Alawi, executive director of the Islamic Heritage Research Foundation which obtained the new photographs from inside the Grand Mosque, says the removal of the Ottoman and Abbasid columns will leave future generations of Muslims ignorant of their significance.

“It matters because many of these columns signified certain areas of the mosque where the Prophet sat and prayed,”he said. “The historical record is being deleted. A new Muslim would never have a clue because there’s nothing marking these locations now.

There are ways you could expand Mecca and Medina while protecting the historical heritage of the mosque itself and the surrounding sites.” There are signs that King Abdullah has listened to concerns about the historical destruction of Mecca and Medina. Last October The Independent revealed how new plans for the masjid an-Nabawi in Medina would result in the destruction of three of the world’s oldest mosques on the west hand side of the main complex.

However new plans approved by King Abdullah last week appear to show a change of heart with the bulk of the expansion now slated to take place to the north of the Masjid an-Nabawi.

However key sites are still at risk. The Independent has obtained a presentation used by the Saudis to illustrate how the expansion of Mecca’s main mosque will look. In one of the slides it is clear that the Bayt al-Mawlid, an area which is believed to be the house where Muhammad was born in, will have to be removed unless plans change.

The Independent asked the Saudi Embassy in London a number of questions about the expansion plans and why more was not being done to preserve key historical sites.

They replied: “Thank you for calling, but no comment.”

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/the-photos-saudi-arabia-doesnt-want-seen--and-proof-islams-most-holy-relics-are-being-demolished-in-mecca-8536968.html

More photos and information here:

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/mecca-for-the-rich-islams-holiest-site-turning-into-vegas-2360114.html

http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/why-dont-more-muslims-speak-out-against-the-wanton-destruction-of-meccas-holy-sites-8229682.html

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/medina-saudis-take-a-bulldozer-to-islams-history-8228795.html

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This will probably start happening in Punjab (if it hasnt already) due to the tourist fetish they now have.

Its been going for a while in Punjab with the demolition of Bungas at Darbar sahib for example. Also at Hazur Sahib

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^^ Yeah HSD, our lot have been doing this for ages as PAL pointed out. From burning 'ill' manuscript swaroops of SGGS ji because they are 'damaged' to knocking down historical Gurdwaras to build bigger ones complete with white tiles. Sometimes old artwork//frescos are tiled over too. Manuscripts and artifacts also go missing from poorly protected exhibitions in rarely visited places also apparently.

Edited by dalsingh101

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This will probably start happening in Punjab (if it hasnt already) due to the tourist fetish they now have.

where you been bro, its been happpeing for years. Even the gurdwara at Sirhind, still held the doors that the Sahibzadas went through, but they were all cleared out to make the new gurdwara.

as for in my time, the destruction of Maharaja Ranjit Singhs period buildings at Hazur Sahib to beautify and open up the ground before the ground was nothing short of a crime to me.

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meanwhile our cousins across the border:

http://news.ukpha.org/2010/01/samadhi-of-bhai-vastiram-a-minister-in-the-court-of-maharaja-ranjit-singh-lies-in-ruins/

http://news.ukpha.org/2008/05/samadh-of-maharaja-ranjit-singhs-son-in-lahore-vandalised/

this picture from 2012 shows they may try and do something about it.

Shockingly the samadhi of Raja Partap Singh, son of Maharaja Sher Singh, and Grandson of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, has vanished. We have lost it. Partap Singh was only 12 years old when he was killed by his own blood.

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I knew about the buildings but I thought that was more to do with stupidity and poverty rather than tourism. Who's responsible for all this? We're bigger slags than the Arabs or Thais.

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We're bigger slags than the Arabs or Thais.

Oh, so you've finally woke up and smelt the coffee......

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meanwhile our cousins across the border:

Shockingly the samadhi of Raja Partap Singh, son of Maharaja Sher Singh, and Grandson of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, has vanished. We have lost it. Partap Singh was only 12 years old when he was killed by his own blood.

Could you tell us a little about the death of Partap Singh. I remember one sakhi of the Dogras they killed one of Maharaja Ranjit Singh's sons; they planned to detonate a bomb under a bridge when the prince was passing. One of the spies said to the Dogra not to detonate the bomb since his nephew was also with the prince. However the Dogras assasinated one of Ranjit Singh's sons along with his own nephew.

Edited by PAL 07

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The bomb under the arch way caused slight injury to Kanwar NauNihal Singh, King for a day, but the Dogra took him into the fort, shut everybody out and then announced his death from earlier incident to his family. Kanwar NauNihal Singh was Maharaja Ranjits grandson. He was described by those who knew him as being like a carbon copy of Maharaja himself.

Partap Singh was killed by having one of the Sandhawalia Sardars, when he was 12 years old. His father Maharaja Sher Singh was killed with him, as was Dogra Dhian Singh.

go to gurmatveechar.com and look up Daya Sngh Dilbar's "Shahi Mangati" under dhadi and kavishree. to listen to the whole history.

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As far as i knew, it was the tradition to cremate old saroops, but i cannot see any harm in digitising them beforehand.

If we are to go by Harsharans Singh logic, then we should burn all the photos of our deceased ones when we cremate them. They are our link to the past, and the future's link to an even more distant past.

There is a need for old manuscripts to be accessible to wider sangat even if the originals are not available because of sanskar.

This is something that Sri Akal Takht Sahib should look into. I feel that passionate individual's like Daljit Ami wont be able to influence the caretakers of the Angitha Sahibs to delay sanskar, and to relent and let him digitise saroops, by himself. It has to come form high authority to have any impact.

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The khalsa is too young to die, 150 years of fighting/freedom, 150 years of slavery we are at the crossroads.

We don't seem to be showing much prudence or circumspection right now. We are leaderless (forget those pendu clowns who've hijacked the Akal Takhat).

It's like we are waiting for some twist of events that will lead to the rise of a modern leader amongst us to lead us into the globalised 21st century.

Turks had their Ataturk. Will we have ours?

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We don't seem to be showing much prudence or circumspection right now. We are leaderless (forget those pendu clowns who've hijacked the Akal Takhat).

It's like we are waiting for some twist of events that will lead to the rise of a modern leader amongst us to lead us into the globalised 21st century.

Turks had their Ataturk. Will we have ours?

You know about the katha of Shaheed Bhai Bota Singh and Shaheed Bhai Garja Singh? Same way today, don't worry.

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^^

Yeah sure.

Sikhs avoiding organising and facing up to their problems by falling back on the crutch of their glorious history again......yawn

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^^

Yeah sure.

Sikhs avoiding organising and facing up to their problems by falling back on the crutch of their glorious history again......yawn

Who says there is no organizing going on? It is simply a matter of translating personal power into institutional, and that is hapenning. Wait five years,

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Yeah sure............

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Seems no magical angels came about to safeguard mecca in those images. All the more power to them, Saudi Arabia is turning it's region into a very super friendly international site with shopping centres, big western brand shopping centres, where women in burkas and covered faces can buy lingerie etc.

Saudia arabia is a demolished region, it has suppressed pretty much most of it's history, science and geography and promoted all propaganda for the propagation of it's own religion. I find it difficult comparing beautiful punjab to a toxic desert which is surrounded with arsenic water, mercury filled mountains and a lack of water that relies purely on external investment in the past it thrived on war booty, today it thrives on oil selling. It's kinda crazy how punjab even bothers to use oil brought in from arab countries when punjab has a great abundance of natural gas, people are moving over to gas slowly but it isn't promoted as much as it could be.

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I find it difficult comparing beautiful punjab to a toxic desert which is surrounded with arsenic water, mercury filled....

Let's not forget our own cancer problems and dumb farmers poisoning the land through excessive fertiliser use.

Plus if it is so beautiful, why is it that every single person I know would leave it in a second given an opportunity?

Edited by dalsingh101

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