*US State Department asked to include Saudi violations in its annual report on religious freedom
Saudi Arabia's violations of the right to practise religious rites and its deliberate politicisation of Haj and Umrah should be included in the annual report on religious freedom issued by the US State Department, the chairman of the National Human Rights Committee (NHRC) has said.
Dr Ali bin Smaikh al-Marri also invited US Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback to visit Qatar to find out the real violations and obstacles that prevent citizens and residents of the country from performing their religious rituals for the third consecutive year since the beginning of the blockade of Qatar in June 2017.
During a meeting with Ambassador Brownback, Dr al-Marri warned of the growing rhetoric of incitement and hatred practised by Saudi Arabia and the rest of the blockading countries that target Qatari citizens, journalists and media institutions. The growing rhetoric of incitement and hatred practised by the blockading countries also include threats of assault and murder, as well as the issuance of laws to punish the citizens of the siege countries in the event of them expressing solidarity with their brothers in Qatar, against violations that have been affecting them for more than two years.
In response to a question from Ambassador Brownback on the preparations for the Haj season in Qatar, the NHRC chairman said: "Unfortunately, we are approaching the third consecutive year, with Saudi Arabia depriving Qatar's citizens and residents from exercising their right to perform Haj, as a result of the Saudi authorities' persistence to impose obstacles on the way of those who want to practise their religious rituals."
He went on to say that before each Haj season, the Saudi authorities deliberately mislead the world's public opinion saying that they are welcoming Qatari pilgrims to the holy sites. "However, these authorities do not take any serious step or initiative to ease the obstacles they put since the beginning of the blockade, in particular allowing citizens and residents to travel to the holy sites through direct flights via Qatar Airways, instead of stopovers; and guaranteeing the safety of the worshippers in light of continued incitement against the citizens and residents of Qatar."
The NHRC chairman presented to the US Ambassador for Religious Freedoms all documents and evidence proving Saudi violations of the right to practise religious rites and invited him to visit Qatar soon to get first-hand information about the Saudi violations and to listen to the testimonies of officials concerned , and victims.
Earlier, Dr al-Marri said that the Gulf crisis has reached a peak of escalation, increasing the worries and concerns of the Gulf peoples. He stressed the need for deterrent measures against the blockading countries to oblige them to stop the violations that have affected thousands of families and individuals.
He noted that the United States, like other Western governments, would bear some responsibility if they do not act immediately to prevent the siege countries from deliberately prolonging the crisis and to protect human rights in the Gulf, as it does in the rest of the world.
Dr al-Marri called on the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission in the US Congress to visit Doha to investigate the repercussions of the blockade and know about the reforms done by Qatar in the field of expatriate workers and human rights.
He expressed NHRC’s readiness to bring a number of the blockade victims to provide live testimonies of their sufferings during a hearing in the US Congress.
During his meeting with Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Arab Gulf Affairs Tim Lenderking, he praised the statements made by Landerking on the humanitarian repercussions of the blockade and warned of the dangers of dispersing Gulf families.