The disclosure by Chinese authorities of a planned life-size replica of the religious site of Mecca has stemmed controversy in the Arab world as King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia has vehemently attacked Chinese officials for this “blatant offense to Islam” and promises “repercussions similar to 9-11” if the project is not abandoned, reports Al Jazeera this morning.
The Mecca, a site that is sacred to all Muslims around the world and attracts more than 6,000,000 visitors every year during the hajj (“pilgrimage”) period held in the twelfth Muslim lunar month of Dhu al-Hijjah, is scheduled to be built by 2016, near the town of Tianducheng, where are already found replicas of the Paris Eiffel tower, London’s Big Ben and many other world famous monuments.
Although China claims the building will in fact be a “celebration of the Muslim community world wide”, the minister of Tourism, Huy Yan Chow, has committed himself to supervise the construction and make sure the replica is as “real as possible” he told reporters, hoping to reassure critics of the project that will cost an estimated 200,000,000 Chinese yuan.
King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, who has replaced his older brother only weeks ago and who is known for his ties to leading members of the Al-Qaida terrorist organization, has also been suspected of being behind the attacks of 9-11, a fact not to be taken lightly by Chinese officials, believe experts.
By building this life-size replica of Mecca, Chinese officials intend to cash in on millions of Muslim pilgrims who originate from the South East Asian region and who cannot afford the trip to Mecca.