MAKKAH - The opening of a new shop in the Saudi city of Makkah by American socialite and hotel heiress Paris Hilton is inviting the anger of Muslims worldwide, describing the move as an insult to the holy city.
It is unnecessary to have her shop here because we do not need it, Saudi Sheikh Adnan Baharith told CNN.
If it was in our hands we would have closed all of her shops in Saudi.
Modern Makkah: That's What I Hate
New Projects Bury Makkah Heritage
Hilton has opened a store selling luxurious bags and items in the holy city of Makkah earlier this week.
"Loving my beautiful new store that just opened at Makkah Mall in Saudi Arabia, Hilton wrote on her Twitter account.
This is the 5th store in Saudi Arabia, and store number 42 in total! So proud to keep growing my brand!"
But the news sparked outrage from Muslims in Saudi Arabia and around the world.
It is not acceptable to have such a woman open her store here, one person wrote on Twitter.
Another wrote Saudi claim there are other ways to allow for pilgrims, & if religiosity is of such importance, why is @ParisHilton being allowed a store in Makkah?
Makkah is home to the holiest Muslim places, including Ka`aba, Al-Masjid Al-Haram and Mount `Arafat.
Muslims from around the world pour into Makkah every year to perform hajj, one of the five pillars of Islam.
Twelve million pilgrims visit the city every year with the numbers expected to increase to 17 million by 2025.
Critics cite Hilton's shop opening as the latest evidence on the growing commercialization of the holy city.
"Some people were angry about it and others saw the humor in it, Ahmed Al Omran, a blogger, told CNN.
"In the end, it's made a lot of people think about the bigger issue of the commercialization of Makkah where historic sites have been demolished to make way for modern malls and international brands.
Saudi Arabia has carried out several projects to develop Makkah, including expanding the area of Al-Masjid al-Haram and the hajj terminals.
But the expansion projects, however, drew fire from some residents for demolishing the cultural identity of the city.
"There's no particular reason to be outraged about Paris Hilton when we already have Gucci and Christian Dior, Omran said.
But for many it's further evidence of how the character of Makkah is being lost."It's the combination of the location of the store, who Paris Hilton is and what she stands for."
Reproduced with permission from OnIslam.net