Doha (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Due to the current crisis between Saudi Arabia and Qatar, this year Qatari Muslims will not be able to perform Hajj, the annual pilgrimage to Makkah, one of the "pillars" of Islam.
The Qatari Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs, which regulates and organises the annual Hajj for Qatari citizens and residents, announced it has not received any response from its Saudi counterpart on travel logistics or security guarantees in the cities of Makkah and Madinah.
The official Qatar News Agency reported on Tuesday that Qatar's religious authorities "did not find any cooperation or positive response from the Ministry of Hajj, which has led to the suspension of the regulatory process for Qatar's pilgrims".
Like other Muslim countries, Qatar has agreements with Saudi Arabia regarding Hajj that specify the number of pilgrims, travel arrangements, place of residence once in Saudi Arabia, and legal protections.
The absence of Qatari pilgrims from this year’s Hajj is the latest consequence of the decision taken in June by Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates to break off diplomatic relations with Qatar, which they accuse of supporting terrorism. This has brought to a halt all movements of people and goods between Qatar and these nations.
Saad Sultan al-Abdullah, director of international cooperation at Qatar's National Human Rights Commission, expressed concern that Muslims were being prevented from performing their religious duty.
"There should be no mixing between political disputes and Muslims' natural and human right to perform their religious duties," he said. "Politics and human rights must be separated."
Last week, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia ordered his government to send Saudi-owned airplanes to bring Qatari pilgrims as his own guests and at his own expense.