The NHRC shall raise the subject matter of preventing Qataris from Hajj and Umrah before UNESCO
Saudi authorities continue to put obstacles on performing Hajj and Umrah for the third consecutive season
The National Human Rights Committee (NHRC) has expressed deep concern over the continuing obstacles imposed by the Saudi Arabia authorities on the rights of citizens and residents of Qatar to perform religious rites for the third season in a row since the beginning of the blockade imposed on Qatar in June 2017. The NHRC revealed that it will soon raise the subject matter of preventing Qatar’s citizens and residents from performing Hajj and Umrah before the committees and constitutional meetings of UNESCO.
This case in a communication to Mr. Coly Seck, President of the Human Rights Council at its thirteenth session, Ms. Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and Mr. Ahmed Shahid, UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion and Belief, and Mr. Jan Figel, Special Envoy for the Promotion of Freedom of Religion or Belief Outside the EU.
The NHRC called for taking measures to ensure that Muslims in Qatar — whether citizens or residents – can perform Umrah during Ramadan and Hajj in the next season (1440).
The NHRC stressed the need to expedite the opening of land borders during the Hajj and Umrah season, allow Qatar Airways’ direct flights during Hajj, and to open electronic visa for citizens and residents like other pilgrims and those wishing to perform Umrah, in coordination with the Ministry of Awqaf.
The NHRC stated that Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Hajj and Umrah recently announced launching an electronic service for pilgrims from Qatar. However, it considers this movement an attempt to circumvent the demands of the international community to stop the violations of the right to practice religious rites. The Saudi authorities have previously taken the same step, which we consider an attempt to improve their image, as it fails to remove the obstacles that it poses to pilgrims from Qatar.
The NHRC said that there is a need for the Saudi authorities to coordinate with the Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs of Qatar to put in place mechanisms to facilitate the procedures of Hajj and Umrah for citizens and residents of Qatar.
The NHRC denounced the announcement of the opening of the electronic service at a time the Saudi authorities do not permit the financial transfers between the Hajj and Umrah campaigns and the Saudi Hajj and Umrah agents.
In addition, the NHRC mentioned that it has raised previous correspondence concerning obstacles and difficulties placed by the Saudi authorities in the performance of the Hajj and Umrah rituals by citizens and residents of the State of Qatar, in a grave violation of the freedom of belief and freedom to practice religious rites set forth in international and regional human rights conventions, and requested raising the subject matter with the competent authorities in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in order to facilitate Hajj and Umrah for pilgrims from the State of Qatar and to ensure enjoyment of their right to freedom of belief and freedom to practice religious rites. However, the situation remains the same with no improvement almost two years on.
The Committee expressed its concern at the continued obstacles and obstacles and the failure of the Saudi authorities to take any positive steps that would enable Qataris and residents of Qatar to exercise their right to perform their religious rites and demand immediate action against the Saudi authorities so that pilgrims from Qatar can perform Hajj. It is worth mentioning that Dr. Ali bin Smaikh Al Marri, chairman of the NHRC has met Mr. Ahmed Shahid, Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief in London, and presented a detailed report on Saudi violations of the right to perform religious rites including statistics on the number of victims of citizens and residents of Qatar. In February 2019, the President of the National Human Rights Committee met with the Special Envoy for Freedom of Religion or Belief outside the European Union and demanded during the meeting that the European Parliament and the governments of the EU countries to shoulder their moral responsibilities and address the Saudi authorities regarding their violations resulting from depriving citizens and residents of Qatar of their right to practice Religious services.
In April 2018, six United Nations special rapporteurs addressed the countries of the blockade on their violations resulting from the blockade imposed on the State of Qatar, including the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, and stressed the importance of removing obstacles imposed on pilgrims from Qatar.