Indonesia calls for Saudi decision on Makkah pilgrimage

JAKARTA (AFP) – Indonesia yesterday called for Saudi Arabia to decide if it will allow the annual pilgrimage to Mecca, after the coronavirus pandemic plunged the ritual into doubt.

Last year around 2.5 million faithful travelled to Saudi Arabia from across the world to take part in the Haj, which all Muslims must perform at least once in their lives if able.

The year-round Umrah pilgrimage was suspended in March, while Saudi Arabia asked Muslims to temporarily defer preparations during the COVID-19 outbreak. But Saudi authorities have yet to announce whether they will proceed with this year’s Haj, which takes place at the end of July.

Indonesia’s Religious Affairs Ministry said a decision should be made before the fasting month of Ramadan ends this weekend.

“We hope the official decision on whether Haj will go ahead or be cancelled will be announced soon,” said a ministry spokesman.