Jakarta (ANTARA) - The National Commission on Hajj and Umrah applauded the government's decision to not send Muslims for the hajj pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia this year over rising safety concerns amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

"Moreover, Indonesia is a country that receives the largest chunk of the hajj pilgrimage quota, of 221 thousand people. Hence, safety and security remain the main areas of concern of the government," the commission's Chairman, Mustolih Siradj, told reporters here on Tuesday.

Siradj also lauded that the decision was announced before the Saudi Arabian Kingdom’s pending decision on whether to proceed with this year's hajj pilgrims.

Earlier today, 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.

Related news: Indonesia announces cancellation of Hajj pilgrimage 2020 amid COVID-19

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.

Some 2.5 million Muslims, of which 75 percent were from abroad, performed Hajj pilgrimage in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, in 2019.

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Translator: Anom P, Fardah
Editor: Sri Haryati
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