‘Declaration of WAR’ Qatar and Saudi Arabia in furious row over Hajj pilgrimage

SAUDI Arabia has labelled Qatar’s criticism of access restrictions during the Hajj pilgrimage as a “declaration of war” as the diplomatic row in the Middle East threatens to boil over.

PUBLISHED: 13:44, Mon, Jul 31, 2017 | UPDATED: 16:45, Mon, Jul 31, 2017

Qatar and Saudi Arabia tensions boil overGETTY

Qatar and Saudi Arabia tensions threaten to boil over

Qatar claims Saudi Arabia has politicised the Hajj following restrictions on Qatari nationals planning to travel to Mecca for the annual Muslim pilgrimage.

The claims come after Qatari citizens were told they could only enter Saudi Arabia through two airports, insisting that they must travel via Doha to be allowed in.

Qatar’s National Human Rights Commission has filed a complaint with the UN special rapporteur on freedom of belief and religion over the restrictions, which it claims are in “stark violation of international laws and agreements that guarantee the right to worship”.

The NHRC said in a statement that it was “extremely concerned over [Saudi Arabia] politicising religious rituals and using [Hajj] to achieve political gains”.

“The Saudi authorities have allowed the Qatari pilgrims to enter Saudi Arabia through two airports via Qatar only, thus any Qatari citizen located outside Qatar must first return to Qatar then travel to Saudi Arabia.”

The restrictions come as part of a boycott launched on June 5 by Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt, with the group severing diplomatic ties with Qatar and imposing a blockade.

The four Arab nations collectively accuse Qatar of “funding terrorism” – allegations Qatar has strongly denied.

All four states have also cut air and sea links with Qatar, with Saudi Arabia closing the peninsula’s only land border.

HAJJ PILGRIMAGEGETTY

Millions will descend on Mecca for the annual Hajj pilgrimage

Saudi Arabia’s General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) has also banned all Qatar Airways flights during the Hajj period, even for Hajj pilgrims.

Saudi foreign minister Adel al-Jubeir told Al-Arabiya on Sunday: “Qatar’s demands to internationalise the holy sites is aggressive and a declaration of war against the kingdom.

“We reserve the right to respond to anyone who is working on the internationalisation of the holy sites.”

MINISTERS OF THE FOUR ARAB NATIONSGETTY

Foreign Ministers from the four Arab nations – Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt and the UAE

The four Arab states have previously issued a list of 13 demands for Qatar, which included curtailing its support for the Muslim Brotherhood, shutting down the Doha-based Al Jazeera channel, closing a Turkish military base and downgrading its relations with Gulf enemy Iran.

On Sunday, foreign ministers of the four countries said they were ready for dialogue with Qatar if it showed willingness to tackle their demands and “fight terrorism”.

Qatar foreign minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani told reporters: “The entire campaign represents a series of violations of international law.

“The state of Qatar is not going to spare any effort in order to overcome those violations and try to solve it through the right channels. The United Nations is the right platform to start from.”

However, UAE ambassador to the United Nations Lana Nusseibeh insisted the measures taken by the neighbouring Arab nations were “entirely legal, justified and proportionate”.

As the custodian of Islam’s holiest sites of Mecca and Medina, Saudi Arabia takes responsibility for organising the annual Hajj, which is attended by almost three million pilgrims each year.

The pilgrimage is one of the five pillars of Islam, which every able-bodied Muslim who is able to afford the journey is obliged to undertake at least once in their lifetime.

The Hajj is due to begin in early September.

http://www.express.co.uk/news/world/835135/saudi-arabia-qatar-middle-east-war-tensions-hajj-muslim-pilgrimage-restrictions-doha

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One Response to “‘Declaration of WAR’ Qatar and Saudi Arabia in furious row over Hajj pilgrimage”

  1. daveyone1 Says:

    Reblogged this on World Peace Forum.

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