14 Aug 2017 - 2:11
Locals, expatriates and officials from different travel agencies have accused Saudi Arabia of politicising Haj citing restrictions on people living in Qatar planning to travel to Makkah for the annual Islamic pilgrimage.
17 Aug 2017 - 0:58
Saudi Arabia’s King Salman has ordered the border with Qatar be reopened to allow pilgrims to carry out their annual pilgrimage to Makkah, official SPA said in Riyadh.
Qatar's National Human Rights Committee (NHRC) welcomed the Saudi decision to reopen the land border, but considered it vague, especially concerning the pilgrims residing in Qatar.
NHRC, in a statement on Thursday, demanded that all pilgrims get the same treatment and services without discrimination.
"The NHRC emphasises that the Hajj cannot be used for political and personal calculations or mediations, rather, it is a right guaranteed by international agreements on Human Rights and Islamic law," it said.
The rights group had demanded on Saturday that Saudi Arabia lift all land and air restrictions on Qatar-based pilgrims traveling to Makkah for the Hajj pilgrimage.
The Qatari foreign minister on Thursday welcomed Saudi Arabia's decision to reopen the two countries' border to Muslim pilgrims, while lashing out at Riyadh's "politicisation" of religious freedoms.
"Regardless of the manner in which Qataris were banned from the pilgrimage, which was politicised, and the manner in which they were again permitted to make the pilgrimage, which was also politicised... the government of Qatar welcomes the decision and will respond positively," Foreign Minister H E Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani told a press conference in Stockholm.
"King Salman agreed to open the Salwa border crossing allowing all Qatari citizens who want to perform Hajj. The King ordered that all Qatari citizens be allowed to cross without the required electronic passes used for pilgrims," the state media report said.
The report further said that King Salman has ordered the transport of all Qatari pilgrims from King Fahad International Airport in Dammam as well as Al Ahsa International Airport be done free of charge and part of the King Salman bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud Program for Hajj and Umrah.
In addition to that, King Salman ordered to send Saudi Arabian Airlines planes to Doha to transport all Qatari pilgrims directly to Jeddah and for all their costs to be covered at his expense.