Written By: Hesham Sami Al-Kibsi
Article Date: Jul 2, 2012 - 3:42:02 PM
Angry at Saudi Arabia for cancelling the issuance of all touristic or work visas for all Yemeni nationals, residents in Sana’a and Taiz decided to organize a march, dressed in traditional pilgrimage attire.
Because Saudi Arabia decided to close its embassy after its Vice-Consul, Abdullah al- Khalidi was kidnapped last March in Aden by al-Qaida militants, thousands of Yemeni have been prevented from traveling to the Kingdom, leading to millions of dollars in losses and the impossibility for many to perform their pilgrimage to Mecca – Islam Holy city – It is wearing the Ihram – pilgrimage attire – that hundreds of Yemeni marched in Sana’a, demanding their government to immediately put an end to what they call “a collective punishment”.
With Ramadan around the corner, many Yemenis worry that they would not be allowed to perform Hajj this year, putting many in great distress as they fear the opportunity might present itself again. All Muslims have the duty to perform at least once in their life the pilgrimage. Protesters raised banners denouncing the closure of the Saudi embassy, calling on clerics to intervene in the matter.
Hit by the “visa crisis” the Yemeni Tourism Union also called on the government to negotiate with the Saudi the reopening of the embassy as it warned that a further loss on incomes would only add to Yemen ’s economic woes and force agencies to close down.
In its report to the government the Union said 95 pilgrimage agencies faced economic difficulties and were considering firing their staff within the next ten days if a solution was not found. In an interesting turn of event, an Iranian diplomat suggested Yemenis could travel to Iran instead of Saudi Arabia and perform there Shiite pilgrimage.
The comment was slammed by a flurry of Sunni clerics who saw in the diplomat intervention a desire to convert Sunni Yemeni Muslims to Shia, which the warned they would not tolerate. Activists on Facebook - social network – decided to run a campaign against Saudi Arabia demanding the Mecca and Medina - Islam two holiest cities – be classified international property to lift Saudi Arabia’s monopoly of Hajj and Umrah pilgrimage.
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