Thursday, November 27, 2008

Restrictions on Haj Freedom of Worship

But not Israel's fault.

Palestinian power struggle may bar pilgrims from visiting Mecca

The ongoing power struggle between the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah
and Hamas' government in Gaza may prevent several thousand Palestinian Muslims from the Gaza Strip from fulfilling their religious obligation of visiting Mecca in Saudi Arabia. The pilgrimage dispute is connected to the Gaza authorities' insistence that all pilgrims leaving the Strip register for the trip in Gaza, not in Ramallah. But in accordance with Saudi Arabia's standing arrangement with the Palestinian Authority, Saudi immigration and pilgrimage authorities demand all Palestinian traffic into Saudi Arabia be coordinated through Ramallah.

Gazan who did register through Ramallah for the pilgrimage - "Haj" in Arabic - are not being serviced by Gaza clinics which are supposed to give them the necessary vaccinations to obtain a Saudi visa. Hamas' spokespeople said that Gaza will not allow people who registered through Ramallah to leave as long as the people who registered through Gaza are not allowed to enter Saudi Arabia.

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