The government has decided to not send Hajj pilgrims in 2020/1441 Hijriah
Jakarta (ANTARA) - The Indonesian government announced its decision to not send Hajj pilgrims to Saudi Arabia in 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

"The government has decided to not send Hajj pilgrims in 2020/1441 Hijriah," Religious Affairs Minister Fachrul Razi noted during a virtual press conference on Hajj pilgrimage here on Tuesday.

The Hajj pilgrimage stands cancelled in accordance with Religious Affairs Minister Regulation No. 494 of 2020 as the safety and health of pilgrims must be prioritized, right from their departure to during the course of the pilgrimage and upon their return to the country.

"This is a bitter and tough decision to take. We have made all-out efforts, but on the other hand, we are accountable for the protection of Hajj pilgrims," he stated.

The decision was taken on the basis of a comprehensive study conducted by a team of the ministry and after consultation with the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI).

Saudi Arabia is yet to give Hajj access to any country in the world. Hence, the government is left with little time to prepare the services and protection for Hajj pilgrims, Razi stated.

"The decision is applicable to all Indonesian citizens, whether for regular Hajj pilgrimage or special Hajj or mujamalah with invitation (from Saudi Arabia Kingdom)," the minister explained.

As the world’s largest Muslim nation, Indonesia was offered the highest quota for this year’s Hajj and would be sending 221 thousand pilgrims to Mecca if it is not canceled.

Nearly 2.5 million pilgrims, of which 75 percent were from abroad, performed Hajj in 2019.

Saudi Arabia that reported 87,142 cases and 525 deaths until now has suspended the year-round Umrah, or minor Hajj, in March.

Saudi authorities imposed a curfew for the five days of holidays for Eid al-Fitr that marks the end of Ramadan, starting from May 23.
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Translator: Desi Purnamawati, Sri Haryati
Editor: Fardah Assegaf
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