Indonesia’s Religious Affairs Ministry this morning said that it will not allow pilgrims from the country to go to Saudi Arabia to perform the Hajj pilgrimage amid the COVID-19 pandemic this year.
Hajj this year is set to begin on July 28, with the first batch of Indonesia’s 221,000 pilgrims initially scheduled to depart to Saudi Arabia on June 26.
However, the Indonesian government has decided not to send its pilgrims, citing Saudi Arabia’s apparent lack of assurance that it can be ready to host pilgrims from all around the world despite the health crisis.
“Based on the reality, the government has decided not to embark the pilgrims of 1441 Hijri [Islamic calendar],” Religious Affairs Minister Fachrul Razi said in a virtual press conference this morning.
Fachrul explained that Indonesia gave Saudi Arabia until May 20 to provide assurances that Hajj can be carried out this year, with the latter failing to do so despite recent reports saying that it is setting up facilities for the annual pilgrimage.
That said, uncertainty has loomed over Hajj this year, with some countries, like neighboring Singapore, already deferring departures to next year at the earliest.
Indonesia, which has the largest Muslim population in the world, is traditionally afforded the largest Hajj quota each year with over 200 thousand pilgrims, followed by Pakistan and India at around 170 thousand each.
It remains to be seen how this year’s cancellations would affect Hajj departures from Indonesia in the coming years, with hundreds of thousands pilgrims already registered each year for the next dozen or so years.
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