Saudi Arabia blocking access to Haj: NHRC
August 18 2018 11:48 PM
Allah prescribed Haj once in a lifetime upon the Muslims

Agencies/Doha

*Link for Qatar residents to register for the pilgrimage blocked by Riyadh

Qatar has accused Saudi Arabia of barring its nationals from performing this year's Haj too as part of Riyadh's efforts to politicise religion in the backdrop of the ongoing diplomatic rift between the two countries.

Around 1,200 Qatari citizens are allowed to attend the pilgrimage under a quota system, but Qatari officials say it has become impossible to register for the annual religious event.
Saudi Arabia, alongside the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Egypt, severed relations with Qatar in June 2017, and has placed the Gulf state under a land, sea, and air blockade. 
Qatari nationals are also banned from entering the states, but Riyadh claims to have made an exception for the Haj.
In June, Saudi Arabia's ministry for the Haj announced the opening of a website, which allowed Qataris to register for the pilgrimage. However, those in Qatar say registration is impossible.
Abdullah al-Kaabi of Qatar National Human Rights Committee said Saudi Arabia had shut down the system used by travel agencies to obtain permits.
"There is no chance this year for Qatari citizens and residents to travel for Haj," he told the Reuters news agency.
"Registration of pilgrims from Qatar remains closed, and residents of Qatar cannot be granted visas as there are no diplomatic missions."
Saudi Arabia has said Qatari pilgrims can arrive on any airline other than Qatar Airways.
But three travel agencies in Doha told Reuters they had stopped trying to sell Haj packages, which can cost up to QR120,000.
"Last year we lost a lot of money as the crisis started after we had booked everything in Makkah and Medina and we had to pay people back," said a manager of one travel agency in Doha, declining to be named due to the sensitivity of the matter.
"This year, nobody is really trying as people have understood there is no way to go there in these circumstances."
A travel agency catering to expatriate workers said the closure of the land border had hit business.
"We sell Haj journeys by bus with accommodation for around QR12,000 ," its manager said. "But as nobody can get visas and land borders are closed, it is zero bookings this year."
Riyadh temporarily opened the land border for the Haj last year, but has not done so this year. Though the border was open hardly anybody from Qatar could perform the pilgrimage last year because of the hurdles and humiliation they were subjected to, sources said.
Saudi officials reject the accusations and accuse Qatar of trying to politicise the Haj.
The Haj is a religious pilgrimage for Muslims that must be carried out at least once in a lifetime by all who are physically and financially capable of undertaking the journey.
The event takes place once a year and culminates in the festival of Eid al-Adha, one of the two major Islamic holidays.



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