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Saudi Arabia’s Unwavering Commitment to the Pilgrimage

Al-Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, July 31

Saudi authorities, together with more than 1,200 Islamic figures and scholars around the world, recently announced guidelines for holding pilgrimage to Mecca this season, in light of COVID-19. These measures, which aim at enabling worshippers to fulfill the noblest religious duty of the hajj, stems from Saudi Arabia’s commitment and duty to the Muslim world. For over 80 years, the kingdom upheld its lofty mission of servicing the Two Holy Mosques while guaranteeing that they remain accessible and well-preserved for decades to come. The recent remarks made by the Iranian leadership and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan calling to commercialize and internationalize the hajj are nothing but a deplorable attempt to undermine Saudi Arabia’s longstanding commitment to Muslim worshippers around the world. The Iranians and Turks hoped that Riyadh would announce the suspension of the pilgrimage this year, only to be able to bash and deride the Saudi royal family. But Saudi Arabia broke their expectations as usual by devising a plan to accept pilgrims even during a global pandemic. The calls to remove the cities of Mecca and Medina from Saudi Arabia, in an effort to “internationalize” them, is nothing more than an Iranian and Turkish political plot meant to weaken Saudi Arabia. These two cities are part of sovereign Saudi territory and they shall remain that way. Any attempt to change this status quo would constitute a gross infringement of international laws and norms. The fact that the Saudi authorities decided to continue enabling the hajj is a demonstration of the lengths to which the kingdom will go in order to preserve and protect Muslims’ freedom of worship. Muslim worshippers from over 170 countries submitted their pilgrimage requests directly through an online portal of the Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah without any interference from political entities. Instead of bothering itself with petty regional politics, Saudi authorities continue to work night and day to ensure that Mecca and Medina continue to be accessible to Muslim worshippers around the world. God willing, Saudi Arabia will continue to open its borders in months to come, making the Grand Mosque even more accessible to Muslim worshippers while protecting their health and the health of our community. – Badr Bin Saud (translated by Asaf Zilberfarb)