Melvindale man arrested during pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia after losing temper at Kaaba

‘Somebody needs to come forward and put their foot down’

MELVINDALE, Mich. – A Melvindale man was arrested during a pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia after he lost his temper while waiting in line at the holy site in Kaaba.

He has been detained since last week and has not been charged.

“Somebody needs to come forward and put their foot down and say that these are our citizens,” said attorney Abdallah Moughni.

Paul Whelan, convicted of espionage in Russia, is still being detained. WNBA basketball star Brittney Griner is sentenced to nine years in a Russian prison, accused of drug smuggling.

Moughni is working to call attention to Mohammed Salem, who for a week now is being detained in Saudi Arabia with no charges and no end in sight to his detention.

The 63-year-old man was on a pilgrimage to the holy site of Kaaba with his sons last week when he lost his temper in a security line.

“Two men dressed in Taj came up to him and said, ‘Hey, we’re from Libya, what happened,’” Abdallah said. “Out of rage, Mohammed said, ‘If it wasn’t for Mecca and Medina, we would burn this country to the ground.’ The two assailants grabbed him and arrested him. It turns out they were undercover officials.”

Salem, who has diabetes, is without his medication and freedom.

“He was arrested,” Abdallah said. “The thing is, in America, if you make a joke or a statement, you will not be arrested and imprisoned. You may be taken in to be questioned. You may be investigated further, but you will not be imprisoned for your words unless it was in connection to another crime.”

About the Authors:

Local 4 Defender Shawn Ley is an Emmy award-winning journalist who has been with Local 4 News for more than a decade.

Brandon Carr is a digital content producer for ClickOnDetroit and has been with WDIV Local 4 since November 2021. Brandon is the 2015 Solomon Kinloch Humanitarian award recipient for Community Service.