The Jakarta Post
The Indonesian government has lauded Saudi Arabia’s move to limit the number of haj pilgrims this year in an effort to curb the COVID-19 pandemic.
Saudi Arabia announced on Monday that it would allow pilgrims already in the kingdom to proceed with the annual ritual, which is scheduled to take place next month. This means that only Saudi nationals and foreigners currently living or staying in the country can do the pilgrimage.
“In the name of the Indonesian government, I express appreciation for Saudi Arabia’s decision to prioritize the pilgrims’ safety,” said Religious Affairs Minister Fachrul Razi in a statement on Tuesday.
House of Representatives Deputy Speaker Sufmi Dasco Ahmad of the Gerindra Party echoed the government’s statement, saying the move was in line with Indonesia’s decision to cancel this year’s haj trips over coronavirus concerns.
“We must respect the decision,” Sufmi said.
Indonesia – the world’s largest Muslim-majority country which holds the largest quota of haj pilgrims – decided earlier this month to cancel this year’s haj trips over health concerns, forcing 221,000 would-be pilgrims to put their haj plans on hold.
The minister, however, asserted that those who had already paid for their pilgrimage could embark on the haj in 2021.
According to the Saudi General Authority for Statistics, nearly 2.5 million people went on the haj pilgrimage last year, including 1.85 million from outside the country.