Indonesia has cancelled plans to attend the Islamic Hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia this year because of concerns over the coronavirus pandemic, removing the largest contingent of worshippers at the annual gathering.
More than 220,000 people from the world’s biggest Muslim-majority country were set to take part in this year’s Hajj, which all Muslims must perform at least once in their lifetime if able. But the global pandemic has plunged the ritual into doubt, with Saudi authorities yet to announce a final decision on whether it will go ahead with the end-of-July celebration. “The government has decided to cancel the Hajj 2020 as the Saudi Arabian authorities failed to provide certainty,” Fachrul Razi, Indonesia’s religious affairs minister, said during a news conference in the capital, Jakarta.
“This was a very bitter and difficult decision. But we have a responsibility to protect our pilgrims and Hajj workers.”
Saudi authorities have already said the Hajj and Umrah pilgrimages – which attract millions of travellers from around the world – will remain suspended until further notice.
Asep Salamun Jakarta Based activist said that it is very unfortunate decision of government to decide to cancel the Hajj pilgrimage. He further said that Saudi government are pressuring its ally countries to cancel the haj itself, and when few countries made the similar decision then it will easy to Saudi to cancel the hajj.
“Indonesia has been very vocal and critical of Saudi government on mismanagement of Hajj pilgrimage but we are seeing that stance of our government are changing”, Asep said.
In recent years, as a response to the spirit of reform, the Indonesian government has made some serious eff orts to bring changes in state administration, including its national hajj organization. However, on February 17, 2009, a Plenary Session of Indonesia’s House of Representative (Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat or DPR) approved a submission of the Rights to Inquiry into the state-sponsored organization of the hajj, also known as Hak Angket Haji is is the first investigation on Hajj issues by the House in nearly sixty years, after the Interpelasi Amelz in 1951, in which the Indonesian legislative body scrutinized the Minister of Religious Aff airs through a public hearing. The two events are examples of how the Hajj aff airs enter Indonesian politics, marking yet again the political importance of the hajj (Bianchi: 2004) in the world’s most populous Muslim country. This study asks: What does the House’s Hak Angket Haji tell us about religion and the state, and the cultural politics of the biggest state-sponsored program on Islam in public life in Indonesia?
Asep recalled that in 2015 Indonesia criticized Saudi Arabia for its slow response to the hajj pilgrimage disaster in Mina, saying its diplomats only received full access to the dead and injured days after the crush.