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Qatari Hajj pilgrims facing ‘obstacles’

Qatari Hajj pilgrims facing ‘obstacles’

THE National Human Rights Committee (NHRC) has sought clarity from Saudi Arabia about its position on Hajj pilgrims from Qatar.
NHRC Chairman Dr Ali bin Smaikh al Marri told reporters on Wednesday that the Saudi government was putting obstacles against Qatari citizens who wished to perform the annual Hajj pilgrimage this year despite its statement to the contrary.
“The Saudi government is inciting its citizens against Qataris. The government of Saudi Arabia should have a clear and open stance with regards to permission for Qataris to perform the Hajj in Makkah this year without any hitch and hindrance,” he said.
The NHRC chief called on the competent authorities in Saudi Arabia to put aside political differences and desist from using religious practices as a political leverage.
He said the NHRC will resort to international human rights mechanisms, including filing a complaint to the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief if Saudi Arabia continues to prevent Qataris from performing Hajj.
“The closure of the Saudi embassy in Doha has made the procedure complicated and incidents of Qatari pilgrims being asked to vacate hotels in KSA intimidated Qatari pilgrims and caused them suffering during Umrah,” Marri added.
The NHRC chief said his efforts to ease the humanitarian impact of the blockade on Qatari and other citizens have been rebuffed by humanrights groups in Arab Gulf states.
Marri said he had sent letters to his counterparts in Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain asking them to appeal to their governments to spare Gulf citizens the humanitarian, social and economic consequences of the dispute.
“WE either got no response or have been attacked by our colleagues working on humanrights issues in the blockading nations,” he said.
He said the human rights sections in the Arab League, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, the Arab Parliament and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) have ignored his plea. Founded in 2002, the NHRC is the only organisation in the GCC officially recognised by its own government and internationally. Other GCC nations have only NGOs dealing with human rights issues.
Marri also outlined his international efforts to explain the humanitarian impact of the blockade to various UN, European and American parliamentarian and human rights groups. “There was great interest and positive responses in the Western capitals we visited,” he said.

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