*Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs dismisses claims that Qatar prevents its citizens from going on the pilgrimage
The Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs on Wednesday firmly denied claims that Qatar was preventing its citizens from performing Haj.
Responding to 'regrettable' media campaigns that made those claims, the ministry lamented the use of Al Haj for political purposes and said the phenomenon started since Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain prevented Qatari citizens from entering their land on June 5, 2017.
The Ministry said in a statement that it was in contact recently with the Ministry of Haj and Umrah in Saudi Arabia and discussed with them the challenges facing the citizens and residents of Qatar.
The ministry said it called on the designated authorities in Saudi Arabia to eliminate all the obstacles, but this was yet to happen.
"In fact all the challenges remain," the ministry said, noting that the border crossing remains closed to Qatari citizens and residents cannot travel by plane to perform Haj.
"There are no planes transferring people going to Haj from Doha to Jeddah, as is the case in all neighbouring countries. There is also no clear mechanism for gaining a Haj visa for residents of Qatar."
The Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs said in light of these developments, it seeks to clarify three things. The first was that the obstacles and challenges facing people in Qatar who want to perform Haj, remain in place, and noted that there was no breakthrough in that regard. Also Qatari Haj companies are banned from entering Saudi Arabia. The ministry said it was not allowed to care for its pilgrims, as is the case with all GCC members.
The second matter was that the ministry has documented dozens of violations related to the rights of citizens and residents of Qatar who wanted to perform Al Haj and Umrah during the last period. These violations included preventing a large number of people from entering Saudi territory, and in some cases turning back people who have reached Jeddah airport. The ministry said that such incidents showed that the entry policies were selective and subject to the whims of individuals.
The third matter the ministry touched upon was that systematic media rhetoric that incites against the people of Qatar remains in place, and it represents a threat to their safety. "Such rhetoric prevented Qatari Haj organisers from taking out Haj and Umrah trips like the rest of the GCC members, based on the foundations of Haj affairs agreed before the 1438 Hijri season."
According to the ministry, the above factors and their effects will be reflected negatively on the safety and security of Qatar pilgrims and residents and their ability to perform Haj.
Renewing its call to separate religious matters from political decisions, the Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs called upon Saudi authorities to respect the honour of the sanctity of their religious duties.