a grand pilgrimage to Mecca in ” very limited number “

Saudi Arabia decided Monday, June 22, to maintain the end of July, the great muslim pilgrimage to Mecca, with a” very limited number “of the faithful. At the same time, WHO announced that the pandemic Covid-19” continues to accelerate “in the world.

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Only people – of all nationalities -” inside of the kingdom “saudi will be able to perform the hajj, in accordance with the precautionary measures intended to contain the spread of the virus. Until then, Ryad maintained the uncertainty about holding of this pilgrimage, one of the largest religious gatherings in the world, which has attracted 2.5 million muslims in 2019, according to figures of the ministry in charge of the organizing.

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The hajj pilgrimage, scheduled this year at the end of July, is one of the five pillars of islam. Because of its high traffic, it can also become a huge vector of contagion of the new coronavirus, with the faithful from all over the world. However, the pandemic “ continues to accelerate “across the planet, expressed concern Monday the director general of the world health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

This is particularly the case in saudi Arabia, arab country of the Gulf is the most affected with an increase in the number of infections. The authorities officially recorded more than 161 000 people infected, of which 1 307 died. To contain the spread of the disease, saudi Arabia has, since march, suspended the small pilgrimage, the ” umrah “, which is done throughout the year in Mecca and Medina, the two holiest places in islam, located in the west of the country.

With a hajj” very limited “the saudi arabian authorities to ensure want to” meet the requirements of prevention and of social distancing measures to ensure the security and protection “of the faithful, while” achieving the goals of islamic law “.

Loss of income for saudi Arabia

Expecting a cancellation or at least severe restrictions, most of the muslim countries had already suspended these past few weeks, the necessary travel documents for the hajj, disappointing millions of the faithful who spend sometimes all of their savings to this pilgrimage. At the end of march, the saudi minister of pilgrimage, Mohammad Benten, had also asked the muslims to temporarily postpone their preparations for the hajj.

→ TO READ. The muslims of France encouraged not to make the hajj this year

In what appears as an effort to provide a religious veneer to this decision, the world islamic League, based in saudi Arabia, has indicated to recognize the legitimacy of the hajj limited, in the interest of the pilgrims themselves, according to the official media in saudi arabia. The world islamic League (LIM), is often seen as an arm of diplomatic of the kingdom of saudi arabia, as well as an instrument of dissemination of wahhabism, saudi version and very puritanical of islam.

The prestigious institution in sunni Al-Azhar, based in Cairo, has also hailed this decision, deeming it” wise and based on the islamic jurisprudence “. Youssef Al-Othaimeen, secretary-general of the Organization of islamic cooperation said on its side” appreciate the extreme care given to the health and safety of the pilgrims “.

This pilgrimage is limited risk of affecting the economy of saudi Arabia, the largest exporter of crude in the world, is already hard-hit by the fall in oil prices, leading to the decrease of government revenue. During the hajj and umrah, the pilgrims inject it every year, 10.6 billion euros in the economy of saudi arabia, according to the government, a sum which the kingdom is going to have to happen, and that would have been welcome in these times of austerity.

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