Saudi expected to Scale Back or CallOff hajj
Amid a soaring number of coronavirus cases, Saudi Arabia is expected to call off or scale back this year’s hajj pilgrimage for the first time since 1932. While a decision is yet to be announced, Muslim nations are reportedly pressing the kingdom to give its much-delayed decision on whether the pilgrimage will go ahead as scheduled in late July. With COVID-19 spreading rapidly across the world, while several countries withdrew from the pilgrimage, others urged its citizens to postpone their plans until next year.
Countries including Indonesia, Malaysia, Senegal and Singapore has already withdrawn the pilgrimage. Indonesia, being the world’s biggest Muslim-majority country sends more than 2,20,000 people every year to Hajj, however, Fachrul Razi, Indonesia’s religious affairs minister said during a news conference said, ‘The government has decided to cancel the Hajj 2020 as the Saudi Arabian authorities failed to provide certainty. This was a very bitter and difficult decision. But we have a responsibility to protect our pilgrims and Hajj workers’.
Saudi Arabia has reported over 132,000 cases so far and nearly 1,011 deaths. Earlier this month, the kingdom also reimposed 3 PM curfew in Jiddah and banned prayers in mosques.
Earlier Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said,”Saudi Arabia has only told us not to finalize any Hajj-related agreement for the time being. They are monitoring and assessing the situation arising due to the coronavirus pandemic.”