Indonesia, home to the largest Muslim population in the world, is canceling its Hajj pilgrimage plans this year over coronavirus fears.
“The government has decided to cancel the Hajj 2020 as the Saudi Arabian authorities failed to provide certainty,” Fachrul Razi, Indonesia’s religious affairs minister, said during a news conference in the capital, Jakarta.
This was a very bitter and difficult decision. But we have a responsibility to protect our pilgrims and Hajj workers.
The decision comes just a few weeks before the first group of pilgrims was scheduled to leave Indonesia to begin their journey for the pilgrimage. More than 220,000 people from the world’s biggest Muslim country were set to take part in this year’s Hajj.
Normally, Saudi Arabia sets quotas for millions of pilgrims based on their country of origin. But they haven’t announced yet whether it will allow visitors for this year’s Hajj and international travel has been banned there since March.
With uncertainty lingering over this year’s hajj, there wouldn’t be enough time to process visas, coordinate flights, and also enforce mandatory 14-day quarantines for pilgrims, the Ministry of Religious Affairs says.
Indonesia’s decision to cancel the pilgrimage applies to all Indonesian citizens, whether or not they were planning to travel for the hajj under the government’s official quota, Razi said.
According to the latest data, Saudi Arabia has nearly 90,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases and Indonesia has almost 27,500 confirmed cases.