Saudi Arabia plans to ban children from performing Haj

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Jeddah, Oct 19: Saudi Arabia plans to ban children below 10 years of age from performing Haj taking into account their health and the rigorous strain during the annual pilgrimage, one of the world's largest gatherings.

The issue came up for discussion during a recent meeting between the heads of pilgrim establishments and the Haj Ministry, the Arab News reported.

The proposal stemmed from the fact that rising heat and a very high density of people at the holy sites during the Haj pilgrimage put children at risk. In addition, there is a great possibility of children's catching infections, it said. If approved, the proposal will be submitted to the Council of Senior Scholars for consideration.

The Haj Ministry's field teams discovered hundreds of children, almost two-thirds of them under the age of six, at the Grand Mosque in Mecca and other holy sites during this year's Haj. The ministry estimated their number at between 5,000 and 7,000.

The total number of Indian pilgrims below the age of 10 was 144, according to data available on the Indian Haj Mission’s website. In addition, there were 52 infants. Till last year infants from India needed no Haj visa, but from this year they are being treated as pilgrims.

The pilgrims who brought their children to Haj, said that they have no other option but to bring them. The pilgrimage is one of the five pillars of Islam that should be performed at least once in lifetime by every Muslim who is financially and physically capable. 

PTI

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