Malaysia

Saudi Arabia mulls haj restrictions over Bersih protests

May 08, 2012

The Saudi government is understood to be unhappy about Bersih 3.0 gatherings in Mecca and Medina recently. — file picThe Saudi government is understood to be unhappy about Bersih 3.0 gatherings in Mecca and Medina recently. — file picKUALA LUMPUR, May 8 — The Saudi Arabia government is in the midst of deciding whether it should impose restrictions on or enforce a suspension of haj and umrah pilgrims from Malaysia over recent Bersih 3.0 gatherings in Mecca and Medina recently.

Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom told Bernama that Saudi Arabia Ambassador to Malaysia Fahad A. H. Al-Rashid had informed him of the news at a meeting last Friday.

The minister in the Prime Minister’s Department added that he had reiterated the “government’s stand against such misbehaviour involving a small group of people. Furthermore, the protests were staged outside the country.”

He said the Saudi government did not take lightly any form of unlawful assembly, especially after the recent Arab Spring, and as a result, had imposed sanctions on some countries in the past.

Jamil Khir said the government is concerned Saudi authorities may decide to reduce the haj pilgrimage quota and visas approved this year.

Those involved in Bersih 3.0 protests in Mecca and Medina had only served to tarnish the country’s image as Malaysian pilgrims have won praise from the Saudi king for their discipline in the past, he added.

Speaking on a separate issue, the minister said the Islamic Development Department would cooperate with the Home Ministry to get a book on marriage by Middle Eastern Study Group banned as its contents allegedly condone same-sex relationships.