The National Human Rights committee (NHRC) has issued two comprehensive reports on the violations arisen from the decisions issued at on June 5th, 2017 by the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and the kingdom of Bahrain. Such decisions were directed to Shut down the only land border crossing, air and sea ports as for the aviation, civil navigation and all forms of trade movement and transportation, including the individual transportation. Moreover, the said States has also ordered, under threat and intimidation, all its citizens residing in the State of Qatar to depart, preventing them to travel to Qatar, and finally expelled all Qatari citizens residing in its territory.
In the report issued by the NHRC on the violations relating to the pilgrimage, the NHRC focus specifically on the obstacles that Saudi Arabia places in the way of citizens and residents of the State of Qatar preventing them of exercising their right to practice the religious rituals of Umrah and Hajj. This report aims to inform the governments of the world and regional and international human rights organizations about the moral and economic repercussions and its negative reflection on the Qatari society.
Those decisions were taken in the beginning of the holy month of Ramadan, which includes an intensive turnout of the Qatari community towards the holy places in the cities of Mecca and Medina, to perform the Umrah ritual. However, these decisions did not only exclude those who wish to visit the holy sites, but also it has expelled Qatari expatriates in a racial and humiliating manner. Although the date of the obligation of Hajj was getting closer, such procedures had not been changed, knowing that Hajj is the fifth pillar of the Islamic Sharia, that obviously confirms the intention of the Government of Saudi Arabia to breach the rights of Muslims residing in the State of Qatar who desire to exercise Hajj.
The National Human Rights Committee has contacted the Qatari Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic affairs, which provided the number of citizens and residents of Qatar who applied for Hajj in 2017 as approximately 21,255 individuals; about 2,400 pilgrims of them obtained approvals. (This number does not include the official Qatari missions or coordinators).
Dr. Ali Al Marri stated “We defend the right of Qatari citizens and expatriates to visit the religious places ; of course this is not a method of politicization, but it is a defence for a human right, But whoever places material, human and moral obstacles is the person that exploits and politicizes the Holy Places”.
The report included many recommendations to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, including lifting of all measures and restrictions on citizens and residents of Qatar, Not using the religious places as a political leverage, Compensation all individuals, companies, offices and institutions engaged in annual Hajj-related businesses whose economic interests have been severely affected whether inside Qatar or in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Cooperating and coordination with the Ministry of Awqaf and the competent Qatari authorities towards a complete lifting of the obstacles set forth in the present report, and Countering defamation campaigns and incitement to violence, hatred and racial discrimination by official or semi-official newspapers and media, opinion writers known to be close to the Saudi government, including incitement on social media, and holding those responsible for such incitement accountable.
In addition to other recommendations to the International Community, including taking urgent action to support the right of individuals to perform Hajj and Umrah (Islamic pilgrim), exerting pressure to allow them entry to sacred lands, guaranteeing their security and safety and striving towards the complete lifting of the blockade; as well as recommendations to the United Nations (UN) and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), including manipulating the religious sentiments of a large number of Muslims and banning them from performing Hajj will, undoubtedly, generate feelings of hostility against those who prevented them. An urgent report or statement clarifying the position of the NHRC in this regard must be issued.
Other recommendations were included in the report to the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief including Communicating with the government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia regarding this issue and urgently requesting it to prepare a detailed report on the moral and physical suffering by pilgrims and companies and submit it to the Human Rights Council in order to take the necessary steps. And finally recommendations to the Parliaments of Islamic States including cutting the issue of “politicization of Hajj” on its agenda for consideration and evaluation, taking an explicit position from the obstacles imposed on Qatari pilgrims that are mentioned in this report, holding the Saudi government accountable and taking steps to prevent the recurrence of similar in case any Islamic government has a political dispute with the Saudi government.