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(SDN) — For the second time in two years, no pilgrims, including Filipinos, from outside the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will be allowed in Hajj 2021.
Violators — or those who will be caught in the holy sites in Makkah, Mina, and Arafah — during the July 12 to 22 pilgrimage will be arrested and fined 10,000 Saudi Riyals (2,666 U.S. dollars).
Only Saudi citizens and residents of the Kingdom, including qualified expatriates, will be able to perform this year’s pilgrimage. But, to repeat, no from outside the country’s borders.
In 2020 the Saudi government accepted only 10,000 pilgrims on very strict coronavirus restrictions. For the 2021 pilgrimage, a maximum of 60,000 will be allowed to perform the obligatory religious activity for every adult Muslim.
In the Philippines, the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) headed by Secretary Saidamen B. Pangarungan sent an urgent appealed to the Kingdom’s authorities to allow Filipino pilgrims from Manila to travel to Saudi Arabia for this year’s hajj.
Pangarungan issued the appeal in the name of Filipino pilgrims as he was concerned that they won’t be able to perform the pilgrimage for two straight years.
The appeal was not granted because of the Covid-19 pandemic, according to Dr. Dimapuno Alonto Datu-Ramos, spokesman of the NCMF
“Due to health and security reasons, the request was denied by the Kingdom,” Datu-Ramos, director of the Bureau of External Relations (NCMF-BER), said, referencing an advisory the Bureau of Pilgrimage and Endowment (NCMF-BPE) issued on July 1, 2021.
He said the NCMF asked all concerned sheikhs (pilgrims’ guides) to coordinate with the NCMF regional directors in their area, or with BPE Acting Director Malo Manonggiring.
In the BPE advisory, Manonggiring said the “NCMF wishes to inform the public and particularly the 2021 Sheikhs and registered intending pilgrims/hajjis that this Office has been officially informed by the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) that the urgent appeal made by NCMF Secretary Saidamen B. Pangarungan dated 14 June 2021 for Muslim Filipinos from Philippines to join the annual 2021 or 1442 Hegirah Hajj was denied due to the desire of the Kingdom to preserve security and health of pilgrims/hajjis and their countries due to the continuing development of pandemic and the emergence of the new (Covid-19) variants in the world.”
Hajj is the fifth pillar of Islam.
The others are 1. Shahaddah (Profession of Faith), 2. Salat (Five Daily Prayers), 3. Sawm (Ramadan Fasting), and 4. Zakat (Obligatory Alms).
Every year before the pandemic, between 4,000 to 6,000 Filipinos performed the pilgrimage. (EKU) — (/)