‘A huge curveball’: Canadian Muslims travelling for hajj nervous amid political tensions – National

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Mehek Mazhar and her husband had been planning on going for hajj, a pilgrimage Muslims all over the world make to Saudi Arabia, ever since they received married.

“We needed to do it in our first 12 months of marriage, simply because it’s a pleasant option to begin off your life collectively,” the 25-year-old from London, Ont., informed International Information.

READ MORE: How Saudi Arabia promoting Canadian belongings may have an effect on Canada’s financial system

The annual hajj pilgrimage takes place Aug. 19 to 24 this 12 months.

WATCH: Diplomatic feud intensifies between Canada and Saudi Arabia





However the newlyweds confronted a “big curveball” simply days earlier than their scheduled departure to Saudi Arabia on Aug. 11, when tensions between the nation and Canada boiled over.

A diplomatic spat, which started when Canada’s International Affairs Ministry known as for the discharge of jailed feminine activists, led to journey and commerce tensions amid the busy season, which sees greater than two million individuals from all over the world journey to Saudi Arabia.

The nation’s state airline, Saudia, introduced it will droop flights to and from Canada beginning Aug. 13.

The airline operates at the very least two routes to the nation, each of which depart from Toronto.

Mazhar’s flight to Saudi Arabia is earlier than that date, nonetheless the couple’s return flight on Aug. 26 is impacted, she defined.

READ MORE: Saudi Arabia lets medical doctors keep in Canada till September

“We each work, and we will’t wait possibly every week to only see how lengthy we wait to get again to Canada,” she stated, explaining that the couple needed to e book an alternate journey residence by Lufthansa airways.

Although their plans are nonetheless intact, the change comes with a hefty price ticket.

The journey, which might price as much as about $15,000 per individual, is regarded as a once-in-a-lifetime alternative for a lot of — and is one thing individuals save years to afford.

“Once you’re coping with that a lot cash, particularly as a brand new couple, placing within the more money to purchase one other ticket simply since you’re unaware of the scenario and what may occur, it’s troublesome,” Mazhar stated.

In accordance with Statistics Canada, preliminary numbers present about 84,000 Canadians travelled to the nation in 2017, with four,000 saying it was for spiritual functions.

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Mazhar famous that round 600 persons are going together with her journey company alone, which implies many are in related conditions.

And a number of other Canadians are checking up on their preparations, with busy queues reported on the Saudia cubicles at Toronto Pearson Worldwide Airport.

The Nationwide Council of Canadian Muslims defined the political tensions “pose challenges” to people who are travelling to the nation for hajj.

READ MORE: Amnesty Worldwide requires world unity with Canada in opposition to Saudi Arabia

The group urged these travelling within the coming days to contact their airways and respective journey companies to see if there are various journey choices.

“Canadian Muslims travelling for Hajj ought to guarantee their return flight to Canada is confirmed on an alternate route or airline previous to leaving Canada,” NCCM pressured within the assertion.

It added these travelling to Saudi Arabia shouldn’t assume various preparations shall be made by journey companies — they need to as an alternative take motion themselves.

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“Travellers who fail to make alternate preparations is also prevented from returning to Canada and danger being caught in Saudi Arabia for an indeterminate time frame.”

For Canadians travelling to Saudi, or those that are involved about their journey residence, International Affairs Canada stated that the Embassy of Canada to Saudi Arabia, which is positioned within the metropolis of Riyadh, stays open.

READ MORE: Is Canada being inconsistent about human rights issues in Saudi Arabia?

“The hajj is a crucial spiritual pilgrimage made yearly by many Canadians and Muslims all all over the world,” an e-mail assertion to International Information learn.

“The Embassy of Canada to Saudi Arabia, in Riyadh, continues its common operations, together with consular companies.”

It added that Canadians ought to go to the federal government’s web site for up to date info, journey.gc.ca.

© 2018 International Information, a division of Corus Leisure Inc.



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