TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - Chief of Hajj and Umrah Organizer Association, Joko Asmoro, said that around 38 umrah pilgrims can yet to return home after performing the pilgrimage on the holy land in Saudi Arabia. Joko said the pilgrims have been held in Istanbul, Turkey, for about 10 days.
"The problem is that our members fly to Saudi Arabia from Kuala Lumpur. When they’re leaving [Saudi Arabia], they made a transit in Istanbul. They’re stopped during the immigration check when the authorities found Malaysia stamp [on their passports]," said Joko in a discussion on coronavirus in Central Jakarta, Feb. 29.
The delay is allegedly related to the local government’s policy in anticipating the spread of coronavirus, or Covid-19, since Malaysia is one of the countries infected by the virus.
Due to this matter, the pilgrims must spend additional costs for hotels and meals as they reportedly will return to Indonesia on March 4. Joko reassured that he has coordinated with the airline to bring the Indonesian citizens home on the set date.
A number of countries are increasing their security against coronavirus infection. Recently, Saudi Arabia's foreign ministry temporarily halted the entry of Umrah pilgrims from several countries, including Indonesia.
As a result, as many as 150,000 Indonesian pilgrims probably cannot go to the holy land and perform the worship. Meanwhile, Joko said, around 50,000 have been granted with Saudi Arabia visa.
FRANCISCA CHRISTY ROSANA