There is ongoing speculation over the fate of Bin Laden Mosque in Jeddah, one of Saudi Arabia's iconic buildings. Images of the destruction of the small mosque, have surfaced on social media and prompted discussions about the possible reason for its demolition.
Assistant Professor Andreas Krieg of King's College London suggested on Twitter that it is an attempt by Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman to erase the legacy of the Bin Laden family, whose most famous son is the former Al-Qaeda leader Osama.
"Images are emerging that the Bin Laden Mosque in Jedda, built in 1988 by Egyptian architect El Wakil was destroyed by #Saudi authorities amid #COVID19 lockdown," tweeted Kreig. "There seems to be an attempt by #MbS to erase the legacy of the Bin Laden empire."
Images are emerging that the Bin Laden Mosque in Jedda, built in 1988 by Egyptian architect El Wakil was destroyed by #Saudi authorities amid #COVID19 lockdown – there seems to be an attempt by #MbS to erase the legacy of the Bin Laden empire pic.twitter.com/iHmjLi3Eqq
— Dr Andreas Krieg (@andreas_krieg) July 20, 2020
Kreig's theory was dismissed by one of his followers on social media, who pointed out that many mosques constructed by the Bin Laden family across the Kingdom are still standing.
With no official explanation for the destruction of such an iconic mosque, others have suggested that with its distinct Turkish style, it was a victim of the Crown Prince's campaign to erase all evidence of the Ottoman legacy within Saudi Arabia.
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One of the hallmarks of the current leadership in Riyadh, say its critics, is the hyper-nationalistic discourse which seeks to foster national pride by painting the Ottoman Empire and its rule over the Middle East as a century-long imperial tyranny. Keen observers of the Saudi monarchy have speculated that it was anti-Ottoman sentiment which was behind the decision to destroy the mosque.
A report has also surfaced on social media that the demolition had been halted half-way through. An image of the ruined mosque appeared on Instagram, with the caption: "With the help of God, the demolition of the Bin Laden Mosque was stopped on Monday, 20 July, and the concerned authorities were informed of the mosque's architectural value and its role as an urban heritage of the city of Jeddah."