Saudi ambassador to Indonesia meets with 40 pilgrims invited by King Salman

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In this file photo, Indonesian Muslim pilgrims sit in a tent at Mount Arafat in Makkah, Saudi Arabia. Saudi King Salman is hosting this Hajj 40 pilgrims from Indonesia, some of them women. (AFP file)
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Updated 12 August 2018
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Saudi ambassador to Indonesia meets with 40 pilgrims invited by King Salman

  • Saudi Ambassador to Indonesia Osama bin Mohammed Al-Shuaibi met with the pilgrims before his departure on Sunday

JAKARTA: Forty Indonesians, including an orphaned teenager and the secretary general of Indonesia’s largest Muslim organization, have been personally invited by King Salman to perform Hajj this year.

Saudi Ambassador to Indonesia Osama bin Mohammed Al-Shuaibi invited the party of pilgrims — which includes six women and two journalists — to his official residence in central Jakarta on Sunday morning prior to their departure for the Kingdom in the afternoon.

“The invitations were sent out to those who have contributed positively to the Muslim community,” Al Shuaibi said through a translator.

Muhammad Izhar Assahmy, a 17-year-old student from Al Irsyad Islamic boarding school in East Java, and Husaini Muhtadi Azri, a 16-year-old who is a student at Al Aziziyah Islamic boarding school in Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara were among this year’s privileged pilgrims.

Azri, an orphan, said he will pray for his parents when he performs the Hajj rituals in the holy sites.

“I hope I can perform the Hajj well in accordance to the manasik I have been practicing,” Assahmy told Arab News.

Five Islamic course lecturers and the rector of the Institut Teknologi Sepuluh Nopember (ITS) in Surabaya, East Java, were also among the pilgrims.

“I was told that the campus received some invitations from King Salman to perform the hajj and that I was invited. This is really a blessing for me,” one of the lecturers, Choirul Mafhud, told Arab News. 

Al-Shuaibi said this is the first time that journalists have been included in the roster of pilgrims invited by the king.

“About 80 percent of (the party) have never gone on Hajj before. The remaining 20 percent have performed Hajj, but they have been invited (by the king) to show his appreciation of their role for Islam in Indonesia,” the ambassador said.

Muhammad Zaitun Rasmin, the deputy secretary general of the Indonesian Council of Ulema (MUI) is one of those who has previously performed Hajj. He went to university in Madinah.

“I have now been invited in my capacity as the chairman of the Southeast Asian ulema association and this is the first time I have been invited by the king,” Rasmin said.

The group will go spend a fortnight in Jeddah before going to Makkah and Madinah, he said.

“We hope we return as Hajj mabrur and this invitation from the king will strengthen Saudi Arabia’s relations with Indonesia,” Rasmin said.

Helmy Faishal Zaini, secretary general of Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), Indonesia’s largest Muslim organization said he was invited along with NU chairman Said Aqil Siradj, but that the latter had to decline due to family matters.

“I think the spirit of the king’s invitation is to maintain cooperation and understanding between Saudi Arabia and Indonesia as well as to develop a closer bond between Muslims in both countries,” he told Arab News. 

As Hajj season commences, 182,547 of Indonesia’s allotted 221,000 quota of pilgrims have reportedly arrived in Madinah and Jeddah as of Sunday .


Migrant spouse of pregnant woman detained on way to hospital

In this file photo taken on August 5, 2010 a pregnant woman walks outside the State Department in Washington, DC. (AFP)
Updated 16 min ago
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Migrant spouse of pregnant woman detained on way to hospital

  • Agents with US Immigration and Customs Enforcement questioned the couple and asked for identification
  • They do not have legal authorization to live in the US, and all five of their children are US citizens

LOS ANGELES: A California woman said Saturday that she had to drive herself to the hospital and give birth without her husband after he was detained by immigration agents.
US Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials said the man was detained because he was wanted on an outstanding arrest warrant in a homicide case in Mexico.
Maria del Carmen Venegas said she and her husband, Joel Arrona Lara, were driving to the hospital Wednesday when they stopped for gas in San Bernardino, just east of Los Angeles.
Surveillance footage shows two vehicles immediately flank the couple’s van after they pulled into the gas station. Agents with US Immigration and Customs Enforcement questioned the couple and asked for identification, Venegas said.
Venegas, 32, said she provided hers but that Arrona had left his at home in their rush to the hospital. The surveillance footage shows the agents handcuffing the 35-year-old Arrona and taking him away, leaving a sobbing Venegas alone at the gas station.
Venegas said she drove herself to the hospital for a scheduled cesarean section for the birth of her fifth child.
“I feel terrible,” Venegas said in a telephone interview from the hospital as her newborn son Damian cried in the background.
“We need him now more than ever,” she said.
Venegas said she and her husband came to the US 12 years ago from the city of Leon in the central Mexican state of Guanajuato. They do not have legal authorization to live in the US, and all five of their children are US citizens, she said.
Venegas said her husband is a hard worker and the sole provider of the family.
In a statement issued Saturday afternoon, Immigration and Custom Enforcement said Arrona “was brought to ICE’s attention due to an outstanding warrant issued for his arrest in Mexico on homicide charges,” spokeswoman Lori Haley said.
ICE said agents with the agency’s Fugitive Operations Team detained Arrona on Wednesday and said he remained in custody pending removal proceedings.
Though the team prioritizes arresting immigrants who are transnational gang members, child sex offenders and those who’ve had previous convictions for violent crimes, the agency’s statement said it “will no longer exempt classes or categories of removable aliens from potential enforcement.”
“All of those in violation of the immigration laws may be subject to immigration arrest, detention and, if found removable by final order, removal from the United States,” the statement said.
Emilio Amaya Garcia, director of the San Bernardino Community Service Center, said his nonprofit group is providing legal help to Venegas and Arrona, will file a motion on Monday for an immigration court to set a bail hearing for Arrona and will ask that his removal proceedings be canceled.
Garcia did not respond to messages and calls for comment about the arrest warrant in Mexico.