British Muslims warned against Hajj bookings

The Kaaba is seen at the Grand Mosque, almost empty of worshippers after Saudi authorities suspended umrah for fear of the novel coronavirus, Mecca, Saudi Arabia, March 6, 2020. (Reuters)
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Updated 16 April 2020

British Muslims warned against Hajj bookings

  • With the Umrah pilgrimage already suspended, concerns are mounting over whether Hajj will take place this year
  • The Council of British Hajjis encouraged people to “defer making Hajj bookings"

LONDON: British Muslims are being urged to hold off on entering into contracts with Hajj tour operators due to uncertainty over the coronavirus pandemic. 

The Council of British Hajjis (CBHUK) issued the advice on Wednesday, in partnership with the British Consulate in Jeddah, City of London Police, Birmingham Trading Standards and the Civil Aviation Authority.

With the Umrah pilgrimage already suspended, concerns are mounting over whether Hajj will take place this year.

Rashid Mogradia, founder and CEO of the CBHUK, encouraged people to “defer making Hajj bookings until there is a clear picture on the spread of the coronavirus.”

He praised Saudi authorities for “taking the health and wellbeing of Muslims from all over the world wanting to undertake the Hajj and Umrah pilgrimage seriously by suspending the lesser pilgrimage of Umrah.”

The British Consul-General in Jeddah, Seif Usher, advised British Muslims to “wait and monitor announcements from the Saudi authorities before planning Hajj and Umrah.”

“The FCO is currently advising British nationals against all non-essential travel worldwide for an indefinite period,” he added.   
Yasmin Qureshi, a British MP and chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Hajj and Umrah, urged British Muslims to follow the advice of the Saudi authorities and “put on hold their Hajj plans until there is a clear picture with the coronavirus pandemic.”

Action Fraud, the UK’s national reporting center for fraud and cybercrime, warned that “criminals will use every opportunity they can to defraud innocent people,” and the Hajj and Umrah market “is no different.”

To avoid falling victim to Hajj-related fraud, Action Fraud and the CBHUK encouraged people to make sure that they have booked with an ATOL holder, that it has been issued with an ATOL certificate, and that it is approved by the Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah.

The advice also encouraged people with existing bookings to hold off from making further payment instalments until the Saudi authorities announce Hajj 2020.


US reaches 5 million confirmed coronavirus cases

Updated 35 min 10 sec ago

US reaches 5 million confirmed coronavirus cases

  • The bleak milestone was reached as new cases in the US run at about 54,000 a day

ROME: The confirmed number of coronavirus cases in the US reached 5 million Sunday, by far the highest in the world, according to the tally kept by Johns Hopkins University.
However, health officials believe that for every reported case, there are roughly 10 times as many people infected, given the limits on testing and the large number of mild infections that have unreported or unrecognized.
The bleak milestone was reached as new cases in the US run at about 54,000 a day. While that’s down from a peak of well over 70,000 in the second half of July, cases are rising in nearly 20 states, and deaths are climbing in most. Many Americans have resisted wearing masks and social distancing.