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Jakarta Post

Saudi's sudden 'umrah' ban leaves pilgrims heartbroken

  • Ardila Syakriah and Marchio Irfan Gorbiano

    The Jakarta Post

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Jakarta   /   Fri, February 28, 2020   /  07:48 am
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Umrah (minor haj) pilgrims are seen at the departure hall of Terminal 3 of Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Tangerang, Banten, on Thursday. Saudi Arabia has halted foreign visits to Islam's holiest cities of Mecca and Madina over coronavirus fears.(JP//Ardila Syakriah)

Saudi Arabia’s decision to temporarily halt all umrah (minor haj) pilgrimages amid fears of a coronavirus outbreak shocked hundreds of Indonesian pilgrims who were left in uncertainty at airports and forced to cancel their journeys on Thursday. Among the pilgrims was Suyato, 59, from Tangerang, Banten, who told The Jakarta Post in tears that he had only learned about the ban upon his arrival at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport at midday on Thursday. Suyato, his wife Mujirah and his umrah group of 33 other pilgrims were initially scheduled to fly to Saudi Arabia at 1.30 p.m., only to be told by his travel agent that the trip would be canceled. "It would've been my first time performing umrah. I've been waiting for three years, but I also understand that this measure has to be taken because of the virus. I hope my trip can be rescheduled soon," Suyato s...