Doha accuses Riyadh of stopping Qatari pilgrims from going to Mecca

Qatari pilgrims will arrive but with non-Qatar airlines; They can get a visa from only two entry points: Jeddah and Medina. Doha: mixing politics and religion. Riyadh: Attempt to internationalize the problem. The pilgrimage should take place in September and is a sign of unity among all Muslims worldwide.

Doha (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Qatar authorities accuse Saudi Arabia of hindering Qatari Muslims pilgrimage to Mecca, not guaranteeing their security.

The "religious" controversy adds to the diplomatic and commercial standoff that came to light last June when Riyadh and its allies began a boycott of Qatar accused of supporting terrorist groups and cultivating ties with Shiite Iran.

Since July 20, Saudi Arabia has set out some conditions for pilgrims who arrive in Mecca from Qatar: they must use an airline approved by Riyadh, as Qatar's national airline has been banned from overflying the Saudi kingdom. Pilgrims will also have to get a visa on arrival in Jeddah and Medina, the only two entry points for them.

Qatar's Islamic Affairs Ministry has accused Riyadh of "mixing politics with one of the pillars of Islam, which risks depriving many Muslims of their religious duty."

There would be 20,000 faithful in Qatar ready to go on pilgrimage. According to Saudi Arabia, Qatar has stopped recording and facilitating travel to Mecca. Some Gulf media accuse Doha of wanting to "internationalize" the crisis with this appeal to religion and hajj, an accusation Qatar rejects.

The Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca, is one of the pillars of Islam and should be undertaken at least once in a Muslim's life. This year the period should be the beginning of September. The pilgrimage is also the celebration of the unity and fraternity of the global Muslim community.

Last May, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt and the United Emirates interrupted diplomatic relations, blocked trade and imposed sanctions on Doha, including the closure of their airspace to Qatar airliners.