Saudi Arabia asks Muslims to put Haj plans on hold

Saudi Arabia asks Muslims to put Haj plans on hold
  • Clock-gray 16:15
  • calendar-gray 01 April 2020

Saudi Arabia wants Muslims to wait until there is more clarity about the coronavirus pandemic before planning to attend the annual haj pilgrimage, the minister for haj and umrah said on state TV on Tuesday, APA reports citing the Star.

Some 2.5 million pilgrims from around the world usually flock to the holiest sites of Islam in Mecca and Medina for the week-long ritual, which is a once-in-a-lifetime duty for every able-bodied Muslim and a major source of income for the kingdom.

 

The largest annual gathering of Muslims is scheduled to begin in late July, but the coronavirus outbreak has raised questions about whether it can or should go ahead given the risk of spreading the disease further in large gatherings.

Saudi Arabia has already suspended the smaller, year-round umrah pilgrimage until further notice, halted all international passenger flights indefinitely and last week blocked entry and exit to several cities, including Mecca and Medina.

The kingdom has reported 10 deaths among 1,563 cases of coronavirus, which has infected some 800,000 people globally and killed more than 38,000.

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