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Tribune News Network
The National Human Rights Committee (NHRC) has expressed deep concern over the continuing obstacles imposed by the Saudi Arabia authorities for Qatar’s citizens and residents to exercise their right to perform religious rites for the third season in a row since the beginning of the blockade imposed on Doha in June 2017. The NHRC said it will soon raise the issue of preventing Qatar’s citizens and residents from performing Hajj and Umrah at the committees and constitutional meetings of UNESCO.
The NHRC stated this in a communication to President of the Human Rights Council at its thirteenth session, to UN United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion and Belief in the United Nations, HE Ahmed Shahid, and Special Envoy for Freedom of Religion or Belief, outside the European Union. The NHRC called for measures to be taken to ensure that Muslims in Qatar — whether citizens or residents - can perform Umrah during Ramadan and Hajj during the season (1440).
The NHRC stressed the need to expedite the opening of land borders during the Hajj and Umrah season, to allow Qatar Airways’ direct flights to transport pilgrims during Hajj, and to open electronic visa for citizens and residents, such as other pilgrims and those wishing to perform Umrah, in coordination with the Ministry of Awqaf.
Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Hajj and Umrah recently announced in a statement the opening of an electronic service for pilgrims from Qatar.
“We consider this declaration insufficient, just an attempt to circumvent the demands of the international community to lift violations of the right to practice religious rites,” it said. “The Saudi authorities have already taken the same step, which we consider an attempt to improve their image, as it is a step that is seriously lacking in removing the obstacles that it poses to pilgrims from Qatar.”
The committee said before taking such steps, there is a need for the Saudi authorities to agree with the Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs of Qatar to clear and specify mechanisms to facilitate the procedures of Hajj and Umrah for citizens and residents of Qatar.
The outcome of the meeting will be announced as a guarantee of reassurance to the pilgrims from Qatar, especially in light of the hate speech, incitement and threats against Qatari citizens.
The NHRC denounced the announcement of the opening of the electronic link at a time the Saudi authorities do not permit the financial transfers between the campaigns, the Qatari Hajj and Umrah companies and the Saudi Hajj and Umrah agents.
In addition, the NHRC requested that these issues be raised with the competent authorities in Saudi Arabia in order to facilitate Hajj and Umrah for pilgrims from Qatar and to ensure their right to freedom of belief and freedom to practice religious rites. “The situation remains the same for almost two years with the advent of Ramadan and the pilgrimage season for the third successive season after the siege imposed on Qatar,” it added.
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