Exclusive - Yemen Minister: Arrival of 7,000 Hajj Pilgrims from Houthi Areas Refutes Claims of Politicization

Sunday, 19 August, 2018 - 07:15
Makkah - Ibrahim al-Qorshi

Yemen’s Awqaf (religious affairs) minister, Dr. Ahmad Attiyah, said that around 24,000 Yemeni pilgrims arrived in Saudi Arabia to perform the annual Hajj rituals, including 7,000 pilgrims who came from areas controlled by the Iran-backed Houthis.

This is a “strong response to those who claim that the Saudi government was politicizing the holy Hajj,” he stressed.

In remarks to Asharq Al-Awsat, the minister noted that Saudi Arabia received about 80,000 pilgrims from Iran and opened its doors to Yemeni pilgrims, “although Yemen is at war and the Kingdom is a party to this war at the request of Yemeni legitimacy.”

This did not prevent the flow of pilgrims from all Yemeni cities, including those controlled by the militias, he remarked.

He stressed in this regard that the entry of Yemeni pilgrims into the Kingdom was made in a very short time – not more than eight days – through a single crossing linking Saudi Arabia and Yemen, Al-Wadiha crossing. He noted that 550 buses transported the pilgrims who were able to easily reach Makkah.

The minister expressed his surprise at claims by Houthi militias that the Kingdom was blocking the arrival of pilgrims from Yemen, saying: “The Houthis are accustomed to lying.”

He added: “We visit pilgrims in hotels in Makkah, and patients in hospitals… and we receive pilgrims at the entrances; but they disregard these facts that are clear to all.”

The militias, according to the minister, put many obstacles to prevent the Yemenis from performing Hajj, such as forcing transport companies and Hajj and Umrah agencies to pay fees.

He also revealed that the militias confiscated the passports of a number of citizens to prevent them from the performing the holy pilgrimage.

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