Home International Stranded Thai Muslim pilgrims request extended Hajj

Stranded Thai Muslim pilgrims request extended Hajj


Bangkok : Requests are being made to the Saudi embassy in Bangkok to extend the annual Haj pilgrimage held in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, for another few more days as nearly 1,000 Thai Muslim pilgrims trying to travel there were still stuck in Thailand Saturday as Suvarnabhumi international airport is still shut down by anti-government protesters.

Thai Airways International (THAI) and Airports of Thailand (AoT) are seeking to find a way to fly 233 Thai Muslims now stranded at Hat Yai international airport in the South and wishing to travel to Mecca to perform the pilgrimage, according to Abdul Rahman Uma, a cultural academic in Songkhla.

The pilgrims originally planned to travel on Wednesday but were unable to leave the country as all outbound flights from Suvarnabhumi airport were suspended late Tuesday after protesters of the anti-government People’s Alliance for Democracy stormed into the airport terminal.

To help the pilgrims, THAI is providing a chartered flight from Hat Yai airport at early Monday morning, just after midnight.

However, the airline is being requested to pick the pilgrims on Sunday. They have been temporarily staying at a Hat Yai hotel for the fourth day Saturday.

The hajj is one of five basic obligations of a Muslim, along with a short creed, prayer, giving alms, and fasting during the month of Ramadan. Every Muslim who has the means should perform the pilgrimage at least once in his lifetime.

Simultaneously, more than 400 Thai Muslim pilgrims are also now stranded at Suvarnabhumi airport. Egypt Air will pick up Egyptians stranded in Thailand at Phuket international airport while Royal Jordanian Airlines said it would fly to U-tapao naval airport, to help transport some of the Thai Muslim pilgrims to Mecca.

While not all the Thai Muslim pilgrims will be able to arrive in Mecca within the deadline of the annual Haj — which falls at midnight on Dec 2, requests are being made to extend it for another one or two days, said Anurak Wan Aaelah, Secretary-General of the Haj Affairs Association.