RIYADH, Saudi Arabia - Thousands of worshippers offering Friday prayers at the Great Mosque of Mecca were horrified and watched aghast after a man leaped to his death from the roof of the mosque.
The pilgrims that had gathered at the Great Mosque during the holy month of Ramadan cried in horror after the man jumped from 300 feet in front of them.
Footage released from inside the mosque show the man plummeting as crowds helplessly watched in horror.
According to authorities in Saudi Arabia, the man was a foreign pilgrim and leaped to his death from the roof of the mosque at about 9.20 pm on Saturday night.
The police and paramedics, who arrived at the spot instantly, tried desperately to revive the man, but said that the pilgrim died instantly on impact.
Local news reports noted that that the man was a 26-year-old French convert to Islam.
The police are now said to have launched an investigation into the incident and are trying to understand the man’s motives.
Officials are also trying to ascertain if there were any security breaches.
A police spokesman issued a statement to the state-run Saudi Press Agency and said, “At 9.20 pm, a foreigner threw himself from the roof of the Grand Mosque in Makkah to the ground floor of the circumambulation nave, resulting in his immediate death.”
The statement added, “The body was rushed to a hospital, pending the results of investigation into the incident, particularly his identity and reasons behind his behaviour, despite the erection of a strong round fence to protect people from falling down.”
Confirming the incident, a French foreign ministry official in Paris said that the dead man was French but gave no further details.
The incident sent shockwaves across the country since suicide is strictly forbidden in Islam and is considered a great sin.
This wasn’t the first time Mecca had witnessed such an incident.
Reports pointed out that in February last year, a Saudi man tried to light himself on fire in front of the Kaaba inside the mosque after pouring petrol on himself.
However, the man was stopped by the police.
The Great Mosque of Mecca is Islam’s holiest site and houses the Kaaba, a sacred structure that Muslims from all over the world pray towards five times a day.
Muslims consider the structure to be the ‘House of Allah.’
Each year, 1.5 million worshippers travel from across the world to visit Mecca and Medina as part of the Hajj pilgrimage.