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Lawmakers grill religious affairs minister for ‘sudden’ haj cancellation

first_imgReligious Affairs Minister Fachrul Razi found himself in hot water during a hearing with the House of Representatives on Thursday, as lawmakers on Commission VIII overseeing religious affairs criticized him for not consulting with the House before deciding to cancel the 2020 haj pilgrimage over coronavirus concerns.The minister announced earlier this month that Indonesia would prevent haj departures to Saudi Arabia this year, a decision that affected hundreds of thousands of would-be pilgrims in the world’s most populous Muslim-majority nation. Indonesia has the largest haj pilgrim quota of any country. John Kennedy Azis of the Golkar Party – a political party in President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s ruling coalition – questioned Fachrul’s sudden announcement of the policy on June 2, saying there had been no pressure for the central government to announce it immediately without consulting the legislative body.”There was no external pressure that we would be fined if we didn’t decide [on haj departures] quickly. Why couldn’t you wait for just two days? Why so sudden?” John said, referring to a planned House hearing with the government on the matter scheduled for June 4.The COVID-19 pandemic, coupled with Saudi Arabia’s indefinite suspension of haj and umrah (minor haj), were cited as reasons behind the government’s decision to cancel this year’s haj departure. Fachrul previously said the conditions had left the government without enough time to prepare visas and protective measures.Indonesia initially planned to send about 221,000 people on the annual pilgrimage, and nearly 180,000 people had already paid for the journey, Religious Affairs Ministry data shows. The government said the pilgrims would be placed on next year’s haj. Read also: Religious affairs minister to lobby Saudi Arabian government for bigger 2021 haj quotaFachrul said at the time of the cancellation that he had communicated with the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) and the House regarding the cancellation, but some lawmakers quickly fired back, saying he had not done so.John said to Fachrul – a retired military general – that he had made numerous controversial moves as a minister.The politician cited his past controversial support of a ban on the niqab in government compounds – a statement that Fachrul later backtracked from – and his past announcement of a plan to repatriate 689 people who had joined the Islamic State (IS) movement in the Middle East.He warned Fachrul that the House could use its interpellation and inquiry rights against him or could write a letter to the President if he continued his controversies. “Don’t underestimate us at the House […] This should be the last [controversial move].”John also highlighted a plan floated by Aceh to get their own, separate haj quota. The provincial administration was reportedly considering issuing a qanun (regulation) on the matter based on Law No. 44/1999 on Aceh’s special autonomy.”Regions are trying to apply for haj quotas themselves. If that happens, then where’s the government?” he said.Read also: Plan to ban niqab in government offices stirs controversyMuhammad Husni of the Gerindra Party said Fachrul had violated Law No. 8/2019 on the haj and umrah, which stipulated that matters related to haj funds should not be decided unilaterally by the government but should include the House.”Logically speaking, we should decide on the cancellation together. The Minister said that he had coordinated with House Commission VIII but we never knew that,” Husni said.In response to the criticism, Fachrul apologized to the lawmakers during Thursday’s hearing, saying the cancellation decision was not made by his ministry but by himself as a minister.”I personally apologize to the leaders and all members of the House Commission VIII for this incident,” said Fachrul.The minister explained that at that time, he felt obliged to announce the cancellation as soon as possible because it had exceeded the June 1 deadline for the government to announce the year’s haj departure date.Indonesia initially expected Saudi Arabia to announce its final decision on the haj pilgrimage – which attracts millions of Muslims annually from around the world – on May 13. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has plunged the 2020 haj into doubt as Saudi authorities have yet to announce any decision about whether they will accept haj pilgrims this year.”We needed to quickly give certainty to the pilgrims who had been waiting for the announcement,” he said.Topics :last_img read more

Women’s World Cup..

first_imgIndia shock England in opener after four run-outsENGLAND were stunned on the opening day of the Women’s World Cup, losing by 35 runs to India in Derby.Openers Smriti Mandhana (90) and Punam Raut (86) took advantage of some poor England bowling, before Mithali Raj (71) lifted India to 281-3.England stumbled to 67-3 in reply and though Fran Wilson made 81, she was run out brilliantly by Ekta Bisht and the hosts were bowled out for 246.England next play on Tuesday, against Pakistan in Leicester.That will represent a good opportunity to register a first victory, in an eight-team tournament where each side play each other before the semi-finals.However, an England defeat in that game, or the matches against Sri Lanka and South Africa that follow, would be a huge setback, with sterner tests against Australia, New Zealand and West Indies to follow.The Kiwis began their campaign with a routine nine-wicket victory over Sri Lanka.On this evidence, England will have to improve if they are to end a global trophy drought that dates back to 2009.They came unstuck against an inspired India side who are two places below them in the world rankings, in fourth, but showed more intent with the bat, more discipline with the ball and some electricity in the field.On an overcast morning, England looked to have gained an advantage by bowling first, but Mandhana and Raut, who was dropped three times, seized the initiative.England struggled with the bat as India took pace off the ball, playing ineffective sweeps until the hitting of Wilson and Katherine Brunt provided belated hope.Wilson, in only her seventh one-day international, may not have been playing but for Lauren Winfield being ruled out with a wrist injury.She joined Knight to rebuild after the England top order failed – among them Sarah Taylor, returning to an international cricket after a year away with an anxiety-related issue, who made 22.It was Knight who first raised the tempo, hitting two straight sixes before attempting a run to bowler Kaur and failing to beat the direct hit.When Wilson was joined by Brunt, they continued to show more willingness to hit the ball, building a stand of 62 in only seven overs.Sixty-eight runs were needed from the final nine overs, but Brunt was run out by Deepti Sharma’s direct hit from point, then Wilson fell to bowler Bisht’s incredible flick back on to the non-striker’s stumps and the game was up.(BBC Sport)last_img read more