Saudi Authorities should ease the restrictions imposed on Qatari Haj pilgrims as soon as possible as this constitutes a clear violation of the rights to religious practice, the National Human Rights Committee (NHRC) chairman Dr Ali bin Smaikh al-Marri said yesterday.
“Only a few days remain for pilgrims from Qatar to perform Haj and things are not clear due to Saudi’s unclear stand on this. Only eight days are left for Haj registration by land and the deadline for Haj by air is set for August 26.
“The Saudi authorities have not given until now any real assurance for the safety and well being of Qatari pilgrims. NHRC also received complaints from Haj companies regarding hardships and difficulties in organising trips from Qatar.”
The NHRC chief denounced the Saudi claims that Qatar is internationalising the issue of Haj. Dr al-Marri pointed out that the issue was only raised at the Arab League, the Organisation of Islamic Co-operation (OIC) and United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights demanding opening direct flights and land borders for Haj, in addition to guarantees for the safety of Qatari Haj pilgrims.
Dr al-Marri also revealed there are 459 domestic helpers in Saudi Arabia sponsored by Qatari employers, and their situation is becoming difficult as the residency permits of some are going to expire, making them liable to hefty penalties.
The NHRC chairman these domestic helpers are having very difficult living conditions and their Qatari employers are denied any access to help them. Accordingly, the ambassadors of their countries, in particular India and Nepal, have been contacted to discuss the issue with the Saudi Authorities, but there have been no positive developments yet.
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