Over two million Muslims have begun the hajj, but for the third year very few pilgrims from neighbouring Qatar will perform the religious rite because of Saudi-led blockade. Tags: Qatar, hajj, Saudi Arabia.
Over two million Muslims have begun the hajj, but for the third year very few pilgrims from neighbouring Qatar will perform the religious rite because of Saudi-led blockade.
More than two million Muslims have begun the annual hajj, but for the third year in a row very few people from neighbouring Qatar will perform the religious rite because of Saudi-led blockade.
This year’s pilgrimage is taking place under the backdrop of the continued embargo of Doha by the Saudi-led bloc, which also includes the United Arab Emirates, Egyptian and Bahrain.
The bloc launched the blockade in June 2017, which included restrictions on Qataris travelling to the kingdom.
It claims Doha supports extremists and is cosying up to Iran, Riyadh’s regional rival. Doha strongly denies all charges.
The past two pilgrimages have only seen a handful of Qataris attend because of the travel restrictions and obstacles imposed on them by the Saudi government.
Saudi hajj official Hassan Qadi has said this year is no different.
“Very few Qataris have come to Mecca for the pilgrimage,” Qadi acknowledged, despite claims from Riyadh that the embargo would not affect the hajj.
Qatar has urged Saudi Arabia to remove the restrictions so Qatari religious tour operators can make the necessary arrangements for pilgrims.
Saudi Arabia in turn has accused Qatar of “politicising the hajj and creating obstacles for Qatari pilgrims”.
Some 12,000 Qataris performed hajj in September 2016 just months before the start of the blockade.
A few dozen Qatari pilgrims have travelled independently to Saudi Arabia the past two years, when the Saudis briefly opened the only border post between the two countries for pilgrims.
The hajj is one of the pillars of Islam and required by every Muslim at least once in their lifetime, if they are healthy enough to do so and have the means.