Religion Affairs Minister Fachrul Razi highlighted that the Indonesian government had cancelled the departure of pilgrims headed for Hajj 2020/1441 Hijri akin to its decision in the previous years.
"Indonesia also canceled Haj pilgrimage in 1946, 1947, and 1948 owing to the Dutch aggression," Razi noted during a press conference to discuss the government’s decisions on organizing this year's annual Haj in Jakarta on Tuesday.
The government has decided to cancel the departure of pilgrims due to the COVID-19 pandemic that was still endemic in various countries, including Saudi Arabia.
The cancellation decision was made in accordance with Decree of Minister of Religion Affairs Number 494 of 2020 after an in-depth study and communication with the Government of Saudi Arabia, the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI), and Commission VIII of the Indonesian Parliament.
Based on the study of literature, Hajj pilgrimage during the infectious outbreak had resulted in humanitarian tragedies in which tens of thousands of pilgrims fell victims.
The Government of Saudi Arabia suspended the pilgrimage in 1814 to curb the spread of the infectious disease of plague and thereafter in 1837 and 1858 due to a disease epidemic, while in 1892 owing to the cholera outbreak and in 1987 due to the meningitis plague.
"In addition, the Government of Saudi Arabia has not opened access to Hajj for any country," he pointed out.
Consequently, the Government of Indonesia had insufficient time to prepare services and ensure protection of pilgrims.
Razi further explained that the decision to cancel the pilgrimage departure applied to all Indonesian citizens, both regular and special pilgrims as well as pilgrims invited by the Government of Saudi Arabia.
"This is truly a quite bitter and difficult decision, as we have undertaken various efforts. However, on the other hand, we bear the responsibility to provide protection to pilgrims. The safety of pilgrims is the responsibility of the state," the minister added. (ANTARA)