Photo: Pilgrims in the Masjid Al Haram in Makkah, Saudi Arabia, on July 24, 2019, during the haj. Casa Nayafana/Shutterstock

Islamic Lifestyle

Indonesia not sending its 220,000 pilgrims to haj this year due to COVID-19 concerns

Indonesia will not send its pilgrims to the haj this year amid the continued spread of COVID-19, the country’s religious affairs ministry said on Tuesday (June 2).

The ministry cited safety concerns for Indonesian pilgrims.

Indonesia was due to send 221,000 pilgrims to the haj this year that starts around July 28.

Religious affairs minister Fachrul Razi said his ministry has published Law No. 494/2020 that backs the cancellation of haj this year for Indonesian pilgrims.

"In accordance with the mandate of the law, besides being economically and physically capable, health, safety, and safety of the pilgrims must be guaranteed and prioritized, from embarkation or disembarkation, throughout the journey, and also while in Saudi Arabia," said the minister.

He added that apart from the key issue of pilgrim safety, Saudi authorities have also not opened access to haj services this year, which does not leave the Indonesian government enough time to make preparations even if haj 2020 were to move forward.

Indonesia was scheduled to send its first group of pilgrims on June 26.

“For preparations related to visas, flights and services in Saudi Arabia, there are only a few days left,” said the minister.

The authorities also have to factor in 14 days of quarantine for each pilgrim before departure and upon arrival.

The minister stressed that the decision to cancel the haj applies to all of Indonesia’s pilgrims, both for those under the government haj quota as well as those under separate quotas and visas that are taken care of privately.

203,320 of Indonesia’s pilgrims are under the government scheme and around 17,680 are on special visas.

This year’s pilgrims will be moved to next year’s cohort.

Indonesia is not the first country to cancel haj for its citizens this year. On May 15, the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (MUIS) announced it was deferring all 900 of the country's pilgrims to haj 2021. 

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