Call for international Haj ‘oversight’ blasted

Dubai: Two ministers, in UAE and Bahrain, have blasted demands for ‘international oversight’ of the holy sites in Makkah and Madinah, and international management of the Haj.

“The call by confused [people] to internationalise the two Holy Mosques will fail, as it has failed before,” UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash tweeted, in an apparent reference to Qatar and its leader.

“We are accustomed to his falls and failures, and we are aware of his conspiracies and [his] ways [of seeking] to cause harm. He will remain isolated and his actions will not bring him safety,” Gargash informed his more than 653,000 followers.

In Manama, Bahraini Foreign Minister Shaikh Khalid Bin Ahmad Al Khalifa said demands to internationalise the management of the Holy Mosques were prompted by bitter failures.

“Whenever one of your plans falls through, and whenever one of your conspiracies fails, you resume with your tale of internationalising the [management] of the two Holy Mosques. You had better shut up because the world is laughing at you,” Shaikh Khalid posted on his Twitter account, where he has more than 472,000 followers.

“In fact, your claims about the internationalisation of the two Holy Mosques do not open the door for discussion, but rather reveal the bad intentions, the political bankruptcy, and the moral failure that you are living day after day.”

Shaikh Khalid added all religious sites throughout the world were under sovereign states.

“There is not a single religious centre that people visit for worshipping purposes that is not managed by a sovereign state. This is true of every religious site, whether it belongs to a divine religion or any other religion. In the case of Saudi Arabia, we have the best example of honesty, commitment, care and protection,” Shaikh Khalid posted.

Neither minister mentioned who was behind calls for the internationalisation of Islam’s holy sites in Saudi Arabia. However, in July last year, Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Adel Al Jubeir said that “Qatar’s demands to internationalise the holy sites is aggressive and a declaration of war against the kingdom.”

“We reserve the right to respond to anyone who is working on the internationalisation of the holy sites,” he warned.

The Saudi minister was apparently reacting to statements in Qatar that Saudi Arabia’s decision that Qatari would-be pilgrims must enter the kingdom through designated airports and must fly from Doha was a “violation of international laws”. Some media fuelled the suggestion by calling for the internationalisation of Haj management.

On June 5, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Egypt severed their diplomatic, trade and travel ties with Qatar after they accused it of supporting extremists and funding terrorism.


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