Turkish man investigated for stealing Saudi artefacts

A criminal court in Saudi Arabia is investigating a Turkish man accused of stealing Islamic artefacts belonging to Islam’s two holiest mosques.

The man is accused of attempting to steal from an art exhibition featuring artefacts from the Masjid al-Haram in Makkah and the Al-Masjid an-Nabawi in Madinah, the Saudi Gazette reported on Tuesday.

A Saudi public prosecutor’s office has referred the case to the Criminal Court in Makkah, it said. 

Investigations reveal that the Turkish man tried to sneak into the exhibition venue located in the Islamic holy city’s Umm Al-Joud neighborhood at night, the Saudi Gazette said. 

The Saudi Gazette said Turks during the Ottoman era were “infamous for stealing Islamic antiquities, especially from the two holy cities,’’ and for exploiting Islamic monuments for tourism purposes.

Relations between regional rivals Saudi Arabia and Turkey have been strained since the killing of Saudi dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi inside Saudi Arabia’s Istanbul consulate in October 2018.