Severe shortcomings in Saudi Arabia’s plans to manage this year’s Hajj season
JAKARTA – The International Monitoring Board for the Saudi Administration of the Two Holy Mosques today warned of severe shortcomings in the plans of the Saudi authorities to manage this year’s pilgrimage season in light of its insistence on singling out and ignoring consulting countries, Islamic organizations and relevant experts.
The Jakarta-based international body said in a press release that the Saudi authorities’ announced so far of the Hajj season do not provide the bases for adequate protection and safety for the pilgrims of Bait Allah and show the usual failure of the Saudi government agencies in dealing with the Hajj season.
The International Commission highlighted that the Saudi authorities, as usual, refrained from consulting with Islamic countries and organizations, as well as taking into account the opinions of relevant experts and specialists, and unilaterally announced “organized controls” that do not fully address the concerns associated with organizing pilgrim’s affairs during the Corona virus crisis.
He pointed out that what was announced from Saudi Arabia was limited to matters of sterilization and the movement of pilgrims between and within the holy sites and the risk of allowing cases suspected of being infected with the Corona virus to complete the Hajj within a special group with a path appropriate to their situation.
In addition to providing antiseptics, the controls prevented the number of passengers inside each bus, during the transitions between the holy sites, from 50% of the total capacity of the bus, and prevented touching or kissing the honorable Kaaba or the Black Stone or setting barriers and supervisors to prevent proximity to these barriers.
The Saudi authorities also announced “scheduling the pilgrims’ pilgrimage to the bowl of circumambulation,” in a manner that guarantees leaving a distance of at least one and a half meters between each person, as well as reducing personal contact between the pilgrims, and preventing gatherings, but did not specify any detailed mechanisms for that.
And the matter of setting the aforementioned controls was limited to a meeting of the Hajj, Housing and Services Committee – one of the specialized committees – in the Saudi Shura Council, in a meeting held over the Internet without consulting any of the relevant experts.
The International Monitoring Committee on the Saudi Administration of the Two Holy Mosques held the Saudi authorities fully responsible for the consequences of the shortcomings in developing measures and plans for this year’s Hajj season, under the current difficult situation.
For his part, her spokesperson, Shujaat Jamal Al-Din said that it was possible, through extensive Islamic consultations, to crystallize a number of creative solutions regarding moving forward in organizing the Hajj season, such as reducing the numbers of those allowed to perform the rituals and imposing broad precautionary rules, especially in light of the decline recorded by the levels of the Corona pandemic. Around the world recently.
Jamal Al-Din added that it was sufficient to prevent the elderly and the sick from participating in the Hajj season, and to limit him to the age from 20 to 40, reduce the number, and tighten health security measures and precautionary measures.
He stressed that the decision to cancel the Hajj season or not is a matter that concerns all Muslims even if it is necessary in relation to preventive measures, noting that there are differences of views some suggest that religion is preceded by health considerations and that pilgrimage is a ritual that cannot be canceled and therefore the decision on that should be collective without Individual control from the Saudi authorities.
It is noteworthy that the International Authority for Monitoring the Saudi Administration of the Two Holy Mosques was established at the beginning of 2018 with the aim of pressuring to ensure that Saudi Arabia does a good management of the holy sites, preserving historical Islamic sites, not politicizing the feelings of Hajj and Umrah, and preventing Riyadh from singling out the holy sites.