Qatar has renewed its intransigence in trying to impede Qataris from performing the Hajj rituals this year.
Its move came after Saudi Arabia urged on Sunday concerned authorities in Qatar to facilitate procedures for Qataris wishing to perform Hajj and remove the obstacles imposed by the government to prevent them from visiting the holy sites.
But a Qatari official involved religion in Qatar’s political crisis.
“It is difficult to understand Saudi Arabia’s keenness to enable Qataris and residents in Qatar to perform Hajj without a Qatari embassy (in the Kingdom) or the permission for Qatar Airways to operate direct flights to Saudi Arabia,” Director of the Information Office at the Qatari Ministry of Foreign Affairs Ahmed al-Romaihi tweeted.
UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash, for his part, slammed what he described as “obstacles imposed by Qatar on its pilgrims.”
“The Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah’s call on Qatar to facilitate the procedures of its citizens to perform Hajj is obligatory and prudent,” Gargash tweeted on Sunday.
He added that hurdles imposed by Qatar on its pilgrims reflect its failures in managing the crisis, stressing that the priority lies in not “politicizing Hajj.”
Qatar has been acting similarly for the past two years, leading many Qatari pilgrims to be arrested and interrogated upon their arrival to their country.
Saudi Arabia has earlier issued an official statement in which it called on Qatar’s Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs to allow Qatari pilgrims to travel to the Kingdom and perform their Hajj rituals via all international airlines except Qatar Airways.
It also urged Qatari authorities to keep pilgrims away from political issues.
The Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah announced it had invited Hajj officials from Qatar and other countries to come to the Kingdom and arrange the arrival of their pilgrims.
It said it had held a meeting with them and discussed all matters related to the organization of the arrival of pilgrims and residents in Qatar to perform Hajj.
The Qatari delegation, however, “left without signing the Hajj agreement,” it added, preventing Qatari Hajj companies from traveling to Saudi Arabia and finishing required procedures.