Qatar rebuts Saudi claim about internationalizing Hajj pilgrimage

Source: Xinhua| 2017-08-01 04:07:23|Editor: yan
Video PlayerClose

DOHA, July 31 (Xinhua) -- Qatar on Monday rebutted Saudi Arabian's accusations that it is internationalizing the Hajj pilgrimage amid a continued Gulf standoff.

In an interview with the TV channel Al Jazeera, Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani said there has been no suggestion by any Qatari official about internationalizing the pilgrimage issue.

"It was Saudi Arabia trying to politicize the Hajj pilgrimage amid the Gulf crisis," he said.

He was responding to the remarks by Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir, who warned Sunday in Manama, Bahrain that Qatar's attempt to politicize the Hajj pilgrimage is a "declaration of war" against the kingdom.

"We reserve the right to respond to anyone who is working on the internationalization of the holy sites," al-Jubeir said after meeting with three counterparts from the Saudi-led quartet that are boycotting Qatar.

He reiterated that Qatari pilgrims were welcome to visit Saudi to perform Hajj pilgrimage.

Hajj is an annual pilgrimage to the holiest Islamic city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia by hundreds of thousands of Muslims from around the world. This year's Hajj will start from later August and last till early September.

Though Qatari pilgrims are allowed to go to Saudi to perform Hajj pilgrimage, they do face some restrictions imposed by Saudi government as part of its blockade on Qatar.

Qatari pilgrims can only enter the kingdom via two designated airports: King Abdulaziz Airport in Jeddah and Prince Mohammed bin Abdulaziz Airport in Medina. And they can travel to Saudi on any flights except the ones operated by Qatar Airways.

Qatar's Ministry of Endowments and Islamic Affairs has accused Riyadh of politicizing Hajj by imposing those restrictions, saying these measures are designed to set obstacles for the pilgrims from Qatar to Mecca.

The Saudi-led Arab quartet, which also includes the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain and Egypt, cut their diplomatic ties with Qatar on June 5 and imposed a blockade on the rich tiny Gulf nation, citing its support for terrorism and extremism, interference in their internal affairs and seeking closer ties with Iran, a rival for most Gulf nations.

The quartet's foreign ministers said Sunday after meeting in Manama that they were ready for talks with Doha on condition that it meets their demands, including stoping funding of terrorism and ending interference in their domestic affairs.