Gov’t Prepares Two Schemes on Hajj Pilgrimage
In a bid to deal with hajj pilgrimage this year amid the coronavirus outbreak, the Indonesian government has announced that it is preparing two schemes, while monitoring any policy changes from the Saudi Arabian Government.
“Ministry of Religious Affairs will continue to monitor new policies imposed by the Saudi Arabian Government regarding hajj pilgrimage this year, including restriction on visiting the two Islamic holy cities of Mecca and Medina. We are also preparing a mitigation plan if this year’s hajj pilgrimage is eventually canceled,” Minister of religious Affairs Fachrul Razi said in Jakarta, Friday (27/3).
According to the Minister, the preparations for this year’s hajj pilgrimage is still run as scheduled, including transportation, accommodations, and catering. However, the Saudi Arabian government has suspended international flights to and from the country.
“The procurement service for Indonesian pilgrims in Saudi Arabia still continues during the contract, but the haj down payment has not yet been collected. Saudi Arabia also suspends the flights,” the Minister said.
According to Fachrul, the process of hajj travel expenses is is still ongoing. As of Friday, there are 83,337 haj pilgrims who have paid their hajj expenses and the initial stage of the expenses payment process will last until 30 April 2020, he added.
“We will return the travel expenses to pilgrims if this year’s hajj pilgrimage is canceled,” Fachrul said.
Fachrul added that the Government would also suspend manasik (pilgrimage rehearsals) for Indonesian pilgrims to prevent covid-19 transmission.
The Government, he added, is also preparing another plan so that the pilgrims will still be able to perform manasik and could practice haj before their departure to Saudi Arabia, including haj books distribution and education provided via social media and online learning.
“The plan is expected to be materialized in the near future,” Fachrul said.
In this emergency situation, Fachrul continued, Ministry of Religious Affairs will provide hajj dormitories in several cities across the country to be utilized for covid-19 patients who are under treatment. Ministry of Religious Affairs will also cooperate with Ministry of Health, regional governments, and other relevant parties.
“The main building of Pondok Gede Hajj Dormitory will be used by the Hajj Hospital earlier this week for covid-19 patients under treatment,” the Minister said.
On that occasion, Fachrul further said that Ministry of Religious Affairs has established the covid-19 Task Force and allocated a budget of Rp311 billion. Religious Ministry is also collecting caring fund for the covid-19 patients from its civil servants, he added.
The Minister also urged the pilgrims to follow each stage of the pilgrimage and be patient when facing the situation.
“The decision made by the Saudi Arabian Government and the Indonesian Government should be made for the sake of the people, especially for the prospective pilgrims,” Fachrul added. (PR of Ministry of Religious Affairs /EN)
Translated by: Syarifah Aisyah
Reviewed by: M. Ersan Pamungkas