For days thousands of Muslims ran a persistent social media campaign advocating for Snapchat to feature Mecca in Saudi Arabia.
They succeeded. Snapchat on Monday featured the place of hajj, considered to be the holiest city in Islam where Muslims travel once in their lives for a pilgrimage. The hashtag #mecca_live went viral as Arabs made efforts to show a narrative of Islam that contrasts the way people see Daesh (ISIS).
Just a handful of rogue tweets instead used the hashtag #isis_live.
Here’s footage of the city live — if this is your first time seeing Mecca, you’ll be stunned.
By Hayat Norimine
BBC article on Snapchat:
Almost 300,000 people tweeted #Mecca_live as part of a campaign to get Snapchat to feature the Saudi city – which is closed to non-Muslim visitors – on their app.
Snapchat launched its “live” feature last year. It allows users to contribute videos and pictures to a live stream, which, like other content on the app, disappears after a short period of time. While Snapchat focuses on locations of its own choosing – including a controversial Tel Aviv live stream last week – it’s been the subject of lobbying campaigns, including a recent push to feature the holy city of Mecca when millions of pilgrims will be praying in the city.
A bit of background: Muslims consider Mecca the holiest place on earth. It’s where Prophet Muhammad was born and where he had his ‘first revelation’ of the Quran. And every year Muslims from all around the world flock the Saudi city to perform the Hajj pilgrimage. The pilgrimage is only required once in a Muslim’s lifetime and only if they can afford it and can physically endure it. But for those who can’t make it during the Hajj season there’s the Umrah pilgrimage – similar to Hajj but which can be performed any time of the year. Making Umrah during Ramadan is popular – in fact some some Muslim scholars argue that performing Umrah during the holy month is equivalent to performing Hajj.
Many of the hundreds of thousands of Saudis campaigning for Mecca to be featured on Snapchat hope the coverage will show the beauty of the pilgrimage. And for outsiders, it could serve as an interesting way to see a rarely viewed event – non-Muslims aren’t allowed in the city.
“They always say New York never sleeps. They haven’t seen Mecca yet! We want #mecca_live please,” tweeted one Saudi.
Saudis are asking Snapchat to host this live coverage on the 27th day of Ramadan (13 July this year) as it is believed to be one of the more blessed nights of the month.
If the campaigners are successful, it wouldn’t be the first time a Saudi city was featured by the app.