Kaaba Deserted as Saudi Arabia Suspends Pilgrimage

CORONAVIRUS: The holiest site in Islam – the Masjid al-Haram in Mecca – was empty during Friday prayers, in a dramatic illustration of Saudi Arabia’s fight to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

––––––––– READ MORE: Saudi Arabia has banned citizens and residents from performing the voluntary Muslim Umrah pilgrimage in Mecca over fears about the new virus. The announcement came on the state-run Saudi Press Agency on Wednesday, quoting an unnamed Interior Ministry official announcing the ban. It gave no time frame for how long the suspension will stand.

Last week, Saudi Arabia closed off the holiest sites in Islam to foreign pilgrims over the coronavirus. That disrupted travel for thousands of Muslims already headed to the kingdom and potentially affecting plans later this year for millions more ahead of the fasting month of Ramadan and the annual hajj pilgrimage.

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