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Qatar Accuses Saudi Arabia Of Restricting Access To Muslim Holy Site

Qatar says Saudi Arabia is politicizing the hajj — a pilgrimage to Mecca — by limiting travel for Qatari citizens.
Posted at 11:00 AM, Jul 30, 2017

The ongoing feud between Qatar and its Middle Eastern neighbors is spilling into one of the most important religious sites in the world.

Qatar's National Human Rights Commission said Saudi Arabia is only letting Qataris into Mecca via its capital, Doha. That could make it tough for some to get to the Grand Mosque.

This comes after the leaders of Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Egypt and others countries decided to cut ties with Qatar. Those nations accused Qatar of sponsoring terrorist groups like ISIS — an accusation it denies.

Saudi Arabia likely made the boycott's biggest impact since it's the only country with which Qatar shares a border.

The Qatari commission said Saudi officials were politicizing the hajj, or pilgrimage to Mecca. All Muslims who are able are supposed to make the trip at least once in their lives.

This obviously isn't the first time politics interfered with a holy site. It's not even the first time this month. When two of its police officers were killed in mid-July, Israel put metal detectors outside a site in Jerusalem that's important to Jews and Muslims.

Israel said it was necessary security, but Palestine saw it as a power grab. Three people were killed and hundreds were injured protesting the metal detectors, so they were taken down.

The Qatari commission filed a complaint to the United Nations, saying the restriction violated international laws on religious freedom. It's likely hoping for a resolution before this year's hajj, which is scheduled for September.