Indonesia wants unused Hajj quotas offered around

Minister of Religious Affairs asks for quota to be proportionality revised, unused quotas to be offered to other countries

Indonesia wants unused Hajj quotas offered around

World Bulletin / News Desk

The world's most populated Muslim nation is calling on Saudi Arabia to divert unused Hajj quotas to those who need it most, following the arrest of 177 Indonesians in Manila as they posed as Philippines Muslims in an effort to get to Mecca.

In a statement published on the ministry website Monday, Minister of Religious Affairs Lukman Hakim Saifuddin asked for the quota to be revised proportionality, and for unused passports to be offered to other countries.

"The proportional Hajj quota should be complimented by the handing over of unused quotas to countries that have long queues," Saifuddin said.

Hajj quotas are determined by the amount of Muslims in each country, with the amount set at 1,000 pilgrims per one million Muslims.

As the recipient of the largest Hajj quota, Indonesia -- which has a population of around 256 million -- sends around 200,000 pilgrims to Mecca and Medina every year for the largest annual gathering of people in the world.

On Aug. 19, around 200 foreigners -- 177 Indonesians and 10 Malaysians -- were stopped from boarding an early morning flight to Saudi Arabia after they were found with Philippines Hajj passports.

Police have said that their true nationalities became obvious when they were unable to converse in any of the native Philippines languages.

The Indonesian Foreign Ministry said Saturday that the pilgrims had come from various parts of Indonesia, with 100 of them hailing from South Sulawesi province -- where residents experience the longest Hajj queue of up to 32 years.

Each Indonesian pilgrim must pay a deposit of around $2,500 and there are currently more than 2 million Indonesians on the waiting list, prompting some to seek alternatives to registering for the Muslim pilgrimage from the archipelago.

Saifuddin claimed that the allocation system was no longer valid, because some countries do not absorb their quota and many Indonesians are forced to wait for a long time.

"There are countries where the queue is so long because the quota is not compatible with the public interest to go Hajj," he said.

On Sunday, Indonesian President Joko Widodo met Saudi Arabia's Deputy Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud on the sidelines of the G20 summit in China, where he raised the possibility of increasing the quota.

Foreign Minister Retno LP Marsudi, who accompanied Widodo at the meeting, was quoted as saying by that Indonesia understands that every country has a Hajj quota, but not all of them use it fully.

"Is it possible if quotas are not used by other countries that they can be used by Indonesia?" asked Marsudi, adding that the deputy crown prince had requested a special discussion on the issue at a separate forum.

"Prince Salman will instruct the Saudi Arabia foreign minister to meet to discuss the Hajj quota," she said.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 08 Eylül 2016, 23:43