Interior Minister Prince Ahmed has warned pilgrims against politicizing the Haj pilgrimage, saying those involved in such activities would be driven away. “We reject politicizing Haj and so do the pilgrims. Whoever tries to use Haj for other purposes will be kept away. Pilgrims should follow instructions,” he said. Speaking to reporters after inspecting Haj arrangements, Prince Ahmed called on Muslim countries to discourage their citizens from repeating Haj except after five years to avoid overcrowding in Makkah and holy sites and allow first-time Hajis to do their religious rituals with ease and comfort.
Saudis and expatriates have been already instructed not to repeat Haj except after five years and they do not receive Haj permits before completing five years after the previous Haj, he pointed out. He urged pilgrims who have come from different parts of the world not to politicize Haj and refuted suggestions that additional security forces would be deployed near the camps of Iranian pilgrims.
“We treat all pilgrims equally. We don’t believe that any group of pilgrims would make use of the Haj congregation for political purposes or conflicts,” the minister said.
Prince Ahmed, who is chairman of the Supreme Haj Committee, said the huge development projects in Makkah and holy sites being carried out by the government would be able to accommodate the increasing the number of pilgrims in the coming years. “I have seen the readiness of the various security forces, which have been backed by the armed forces and the National Guard, to make this year’s Haj a big success,” the prince said while underlining the progress made in Haj services over the past years.
Asked about prospects of allowing Muslim youth from other Islamic countries to participate in Haj services, Prince Ahmed said: “The Ministries of Education and Higher Education can invite groups of students from Muslim countries to extend their services to pilgrims.”