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Photo Depicting New Saudi Crown Prince At Prayer Sparks Online Debate

Indonesian Muslims hold prayers to mark the start of the holy month of Ramadan at the Al Akbar mosque in Surabaya on June 5, 2016. Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim-majority country will begin observing the fasting month of Ramadan.
JUNI KRISWANTO/AFP/Getty

TEL AVIV — A power struggle in Saudi Arabia’s royal family, in which crown prince Mohammad bin Nayef was replaced by deputy crown prince Mohammad the son of King Salman, has continued to hold the attention of the local population as criticism of the new heir to the throne emerged.

Saudi opposition figure Professor Mohammad Almassari, director of the Islamic Renewal party, published a photo on his Twitter account purporting to show the new Saudi crown prince Mohammad bin Salman at prayer.

While praying, Muslims put their right hand on top of their left hand. The crown prince was depicted in the photo putting his left hand over his right. A caption on Twitter came with a Quranic quote saying nonbelievers are characterized by arriving on judgment day with their book of deeds held in the left hand, in contrast to believers, who hold their book of deeds in the right hand.

The superiority of those who hold the book of deeds in their right hand is a repeating motif in the Quran.

Almassri quoted directly from the Quran, writing, “People of the left [hand], O people of the left,” alluding to sinners.

The quote and the photo ignited a stormy debate online. Many social media users claimed that the photo was edited, making it appear as if the prince’s left hand was over his right.

One social media user, Mohammad Alahmed, criticized the photo and tweeted, “The photo is backward, you idiot … An idiot and a liar??? May Allah char your face, as degenerate as you are.”

In another tweet from the same account, Alahmed responded to another Twitter user’s request to present the original photo, writing, “Turn the picture around and you’ll get the original.”

Another Twitter user wrote, “This shows how much he always keeps to the prayer … lol.”

Ibrahim Elatik defended the prince and wrote, “Even if the photo is right after all, it has nothing to do with the quoted verse [from the Quran]. The reflection of the photo made it backward. What’s certain is that the prince caused you to have a mental breakdown.”

Abu Mohammad also responded to the photo with anger and wrote, “You monster, this photo is before the beginning of prayer and the proof is those next to him. Shame on your reply and your lies.”

Abu Mohammed’s tweet got a response from Bu Yaacoub, who wrote, “Lol stick on one version. You’ll be better off. You said the picture is before prayer, others say the photo is backward. You seem lost since the moment Bin Nayef [the deposed crown prince] went.”

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