‘Declaration of WAR’ Qatar and Saudi Arabia in furious row over Hajj pilgrimage

Monday, July 31, 2017
By Paul Martin

SAUDI Arabia has labelled Qatar’s criticism of access restrictions during the Hajj pilgrimage as a “declaration of war” as the diplomatic row in the Middle East threatens to boil over.

By SOFIA PETKAR
Express.co.uk
Mon, Jul 31, 2017

Qatar claims Saudi Arabia has politicised the Hajj following restrictions on Qatari nationals planning to travel to Mecca for the annual Muslim pilgrimage.

The claims come after Qatari citizens were told they could only enter Saudi Arabia through two airports, insisting that they must travel via Doha to be allowed in.

Qatar’s National Human Rights Commission has filed a complaint with the UN special rapporteur on freedom of belief and religion over the restrictions, which it claims are in “stark violation of international laws and agreements that guarantee the right to worship”.

The NHRC said in a statement that it was “extremely concerned over [Saudi Arabia] politicising religious rituals and using [Hajj] to achieve political gains”.

“The Saudi authorities have allowed the Qatari pilgrims to enter Saudi Arabia through two airports via Qatar only, thus any Qatari citizen located outside Qatar must first return to Qatar then travel to Saudi Arabia.”

The restrictions come as part of a boycott launched on June 5 by Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt, with the group severing diplomatic ties with Qatar and imposing a blockade.

The four Arab nations collectively accuse Qatar of “funding terrorism” – allegations Qatar has strongly denied.

All four states have also cut air and sea links with Qatar, with Saudi Arabia closing the peninsula’s only land border.

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