Swiss organisation for protection of human rights (SPH) urged the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief at the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva, to take necessary measures to ensure that Qatari pilgrims have the right to practice their religious rites without discrimination or restriction, as recognised by relevant international principles and conventions.
SPH said the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is violating the rights to religious practice as the Saudi authorities have prevented Qatari citizens from exercising their religious rites recognised in Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states: “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. This right includes the freedom to change his religion or belief, and the freedom to express them in education, practice and observance, whether in secret or with the community”.
SPH pointed out that the month of Dhul Hijja, the month of Haj pilgrimage, is expected by Muslims all over the world each year, as millions perform the Haj, the fifth pillar of Islam in Saudi Arabia. But the Saudi authorities imposed new restrictions on the pilgrims from Qatar.Qatari pilgrims are denied performing the Haj due to restrictions imposed by Saudi by limiting their travel by only Saudi airlines, absence of Qatari consulate in Jeddah, ban of money transfer through Saudi banks and logistics problems.
The Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic affairs in Qatar announced they had communicated with the concerned bodies in the Saudi Ministry of Haj and Umrah to know the arrangements for the Qatari pilgrims under the current conditions, but they found no cooperation nor a positive response from the ministry of Hajj in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, that resulted in confusing and stopping the regulatory process for the Qatari pilgrims.