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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 16 December 2018

Qatari man attacked after performing Hajj

Regional human rights organisations condemned the attack, which happened after the victim praised Saudi authorities during the pilgrimage

Muslim pilgrims circumambulate the Kaaba, Islam's holiest shrine, at the Grand Mosque in Saudi Arabia's holy city of Mecca on September 3, 2017, during the annual Hajj pilgrimage. / AFP PHOTO / KARIM SAHIB
Muslim pilgrims circumambulate the Kaaba, Islam's holiest shrine, at the Grand Mosque in Saudi Arabia's holy city of Mecca on September 3, 2017, during the annual Hajj pilgrimage. / AFP PHOTO / KARIM SAHIB

Regional human rights organisations have condemned an assault on a Qatari man, who they say was beaten up in his home country after returning from Saudi Arabia where he was performing Hajj.

The man, who was identified as Hamad Al Marri, was shown on Riyadh-based Al Ekhbariya television during the Hajj season praising Saudi Arabia for facilitating Hajj for Qatari pilgrims, despite a regional boycott of Qatar.

The National Society for Human Rights (NSHR) in Saudi Arabia on Sunday condemned the attack on Mr Al Marri, saying his “beating, humiliation and degradation" had taken place in Qatar after he returned from Saudi Arabia. The society said the filming of the attack and sharing it online was a "flagrant violation of human rights”.

It urged Qatari and international human rights organisations to follow up on the issue and reveal “the fate of the Qatari national and protect him from the attacks and violations that have been committed against him”.

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Saudis hail successful Hajj season

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Mohammed Al Kaabi, chairman of EHRA, said: “All these acts, individually and collectively, are crimes against humanity.”

The 43-second clip shows Mr Al Marri on his knees with his hands tied behind his back. Another man, wearing a white and red ghutra — commonly worn by Saudi men, accused the victim of cursing Saudi Arabia.

“I did not curse Saudi Arabia. I am a Qatari citizen, and I have no business in politics,” says the victim before being attacked.

Reports said that the attacker was posing as a Saudi national to make it seem that Saudis are attacking Qataris as a result of the political crisis.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt cut transport, diplomatic and trade ties with Qatar on June 5 over accusations it was supporting terrorist groups and interfering in the internal affairs of other countries. Doha denies the allegations.

While the dispute remains in a stalemate, Saudi Arabia opened its Salwa border crossing to allow Qatari pilgrims in to the country.

Pilgrims were then flown to Jeddah at the king’s expense from King Fahad International Airport in Dammam and Al Ahsa International Airport in the Eastern Province, reported the Saudi Press Agency.

The number of Qatari pilgrims was nearly 30 per cent higher than last year despite the political dispute.

At total of 1,564 Qataris arrived in Saudi Arabia for the annual pilgrimage, said the governor of Makkah Prince Khalid Al Faisal, whereas the number of Qatari pilgrims last year was 1,210.

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Read more: The Qatari royal close to the Saudi leadership

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The Manama Centre for Human Rights said that what happened to Mr Al Marri after “performing the obligation of Hajj … was a violation of human rights, ethics, Islam and Arabism”.

The Egyptian Organisation for Human Rights said Qataris attacked the man but wanted to pin it on Saudis, according to Egyptian daily Youm7.

“It was revealed that that [the attackers] were Qataris, and they hit and assaulted their countryman because he praised Saudi Arabia and its facilitation of Hajj and because he refused to offend Saudis and the kingdom,” said Hafez Abu Saada, director of the organisation.