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Saudi ban on Umrah Pilgrims: 200 Keralites stopped at airport

More than 120 pilgrims who had arrived at the airport here in the morning were stopped at the checking counter

Thursday February 27, 2020 12:19 PM, ummid.com with inputs from IANS

Kerala Pilgrim stopped after Saudi Travel Ban

Kozhikode (Kerala): As Saudi Arabia early Thursday morning enforced a temporary ban on pilgrims coming from abroad to visit Makkah for Umrah in the wake of Coronavirus scare, over 200 Muslims were stopped at Kozhikode airport from travelling to the Kingdom.

More than 120 pilgrims who had arrived at the airport here in the morning were stopped at the checking counter, whereas 87 were allowed to board an aircraft but later directed to deplane.

"We reached the airport around 4 am. While some were asked to alight from the aircraft after checks, others were not even allowed to check in at the counter. We do not know when the ban will be lifted," said a pilgrim.

The Umrah is a pilgrimage undertaken to Makkah by Muslims at any time of the year, in contrast to Haj that has specific dates according to the Islamic lunar calendar.

'Rarest of Rare Moment'

Millions of people from all across the world on almost daily basis travel to Makkah and Madina - the two holiest places of the Muslim world, to perform Umrah.

This is the rarest of rare moment in the history when entry of pilgrims in the two holy cities will be banned. Health apprehensions were earlier raised during the outbreak of Swine Flu in 2009 ahead of Haj. However, the Saudi Arabia made the elaborate arrangement so that those performing Haj are in no way harmed.

Saudi Arabia banned the entry of Umrah pilgrims in Makkah and Madinah till further order. The decision has been taken to stop spread of Coronavirus - the disease which started from China and has so far taken thousands of life.

"Saudi Arabia has placed a temporary ban on Umrah pilgrims in an attempt to ensure public safety by preventing the spread of the coronavirus", Saudi Press Agency said.

"Most foreign pilgrims often visit the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah before or after the completion of their religious duties in Makkah, this has also been halted", the government run SPA said.

"Tourist-visa holders from countries judged to pose a particularly high risk of spreading the virus will also be denied entry", it said.

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