close
Advertisement
Can't connect right now! retry

add The News to homescreen

tap to bring up your browser menu and select 'Add to homescreen' to pin the The News web app

Got it!

add The News to homescreen

tap to bring up your browser menu and select 'Add to homescreen' to pin the The News web app

Got it!

World

AFP
June 2, 2020

COVID-19: Indonesia pulls out of Hajj pilgrimage over virus fears

World

AFP
Tue, Jun 02, 2020
Photo: File

Indonesia is pulling out of this year's annual Hajj pilgrimage over coronavirus fears, the religious affairs ministry said Tuesday.

More than 220,000 people from the world´s biggest Muslim-majority country were set to take part in this year´s Hajj, which all Muslims must perform at least once in their lives if able.

The global pandemic has plunged the ritual into doubt, but Riyadh has yet to announce a final decision on whether it will go ahead with the end-of-July celebration.

On Tuesday, Indonesia said it was pulling out of the pilgrimage, which last year drew about 2.5 million Muslims to Saudi Arabia from across the globe.

"This was a very bitter and difficult decision," religious affairs minister Fachrul Razi told a televised press briefing.

"But we have a responsibility to protect our pilgrims and Hajj workers."

Last month, Indonesia pressed Riyadh to announce its decision and President Joko Widodo later held a telephone call with Saudi Arabia´s King Salman on the matter, Razi said.

Jakarta had considered allowing half the usual number of pilgrims to travel in order to limit the risk, but instead opted to keep them all at home, he added.

The Hajj is a key revenue earner for the kingdom but risks becoming a major source of contagion if millions flock to Mecca´s religious sites.

Indonesia´s decision was a disappointment for some who have been on a pilgrimage waiting list for years.

"I knew this was a possibility, but now that it´s official I can´t help but be heartbroken -- I´ve been waiting for years," 37-year-old civil servant Ria Taurisnawati told AFP as she sobbed.

"All my preparations were done, the clothes were ready and I got the necessary vaccination. But God has another plan," she added.