Religious Affairs Ministry urges hajj pilgrims to get vaccinated

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Jakarta (ANTARA) - The Religious Affairs Ministry encouraged prospective Indonesian hajj pilgrims to partake in the vaccination program to stem the spread of COVID-19.

"We need the people's support in handling the pandemic. If we can overcome it, Insya Allah (if God wishes), we can regain umrah and hajj permits from the government of Saudi Arabia," the ministry's Acting Director General for Hajj and Umrah Khoirizi noted in a written statement received here on Wednesday.

In accordance with Religious Affairs Minister’s Decree Number 660 of 2021, Indonesia did not organize any hajj pilgrimage in 1442 AH (Islamic Year). The decision was taken as the global transmission of COVID-19 was quite high during that time, he remarked.

According to Khoirizi, COVID-19 transmission would be difficult to suppress if the government had insisted on sending the pilgrims, as new pandemic clusters might have emerged among them that could harm not only the hajj participants but also the officers and other parties involved.

"We do not expect the delayed pilgrimage to continue. We have to halt the spread of the virus by conducting strict health protocols and vaccination programs," he affirmed.

Khoirizi expressed belief that low infection rate of the virus will facilitate the hajj and umrah pilgrimage. Low number of COVID-19 confirmed cases and mortalities could be the main basis for the Indonesian government to adopt a diplomatic approach with Saudi Arabia in connection with the permission.

"Thus, it depends on our own attempts to reduce the numbers. If we are disciplined in following our health protocols and the numbers significantly decline, Insya Allah, we are ready to go for hajj and umrah," he emphasized.