An Indian technician named Harish Bangera working in Saudi Arabian city of Dammam has found himself in trouble over his Facebook post regarding the Muslim pilgrimage site of Mecca. Harish is a resident of Udipi, Karnataka.
On Saturday, December 21, Harish had uploaded a picture of Kaaba in Mecca with the caption that “Next Ram Temple in Mecca. Be ready for fight”. Soon, the post elicited hundreds of comments, shares and came to the notice of the Saudi authorities after a complaint was registered against Harish accusing him of blasphemy. He was arrested by the Saudi police within an hour of receiving the complaint.
After Harish was arrested, his employers too axed him from the job with immediate effect. A Facebook post that has now gone viral, allegedly from the employers of Harish, condemned the posts made by Harish as “objectionable” and said that they have decided to terminate him from the job citing his unethical posts as a justification for their decision.
“We Gulf Carton Factory Co. want to have your attention for what happened, in relation to unethical posts, posted by Mr Harish Bangera from his personal Facebook account. It was unacceptable and we have immediately terminated Mr Harish Bangera from his duties and company contract. We condemn such activities extremely and have reported this case to Police, Ministry of Labour & Saudi authorities for their further action. We assure everyone that we have zero tolerance for such acts (sic).” The post is allegedly written by Meshari AM Al Jabr of Gulf Carton Factory Co where Harish was said to be employed.
On the other hand, Harish has expressed his remorse over the posts uploaded by him. In a video, Harish can be seen beseeching forgiveness from Muslims for his Facebook post. In the video, he says, “I have committed a mistake. Please forgive me. I will never upload any such posts again. I have faced a lot of difficulties prior to coming to Dammam. I seek forgiveness from my Muslim brothers. I am facing problems with my company. Please forgive me.” However, it could not be ascertained when was the video made.
The incident serves as a grim reminder to Indians staying in the Islamic countries where comments and actions considered disrespectful for Islam come under the scrutiny of harsh blasphemy laws.