Arsianews.com, Jakarta – The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s policy that requires the recording of biometric data as a condition of obtaining a visa for Indonesian hajj and umrah pilgrims continues to be protested.
The Inter-Society Consultation of Indonesian Umrah and Hajj Travel (Patuhi) asks the Indonesian Government to be firm by asking for relief regarding the policy. This is because the sending of Indonesian hajj and umrah pilgrims actually contributes significantly to the economy of Saudi Arabia.
“If we stop sending umrah pilgrims, the commotion will be extraordinary,” General Chairperson of Patuhi Artha Hanif told Republika.co.id.
This Saudi policy has troubled prospective umrah pilgrims from Indonesia. This is because the Saudis do not consider the geographical conditions of Indonesia which consists of 17,000 islands in the implementation of the biometric recording policy.
Saudi appointed private company VFS Tasheel to record biometric data in Indonesia. The problem is that the VFS Tasheel representative office only exists in major cities in Indonesia. This is very difficult for prospective umrah pilgrims who come from remote areas in Indonesia.
Hanif questioned why the biometric data recording policy was only applied to pilgrims and umrah from Indonesia. For example, Malaysian congregations are not required to record biometrics. “This is actually a form of discrimination against Indonesians,” he said.
Supposedly, Saudi Arabia saw that Indonesia sent large numbers of umrah pilgrims. The large congregation has contributed to the growth of the Saudi economy.
Therefore, any obstacles experienced by prospective umrah pilgrims from Indonesia should be assisted and facilitated by the Saudi government, rather than being made difficult. “This is something that should be of concern to our government and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” Hanif said.
According to the Saudi Gazette, the Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah has received nearly 2.8 million umrah worshipers since the beginning of the year. At present, as many as 3.27 million visas have been issued to prospective pilgrims. Of these, 2.7 million umrah pilgrims have arrived in Arabia.
According to data, the highest number of Umrah pilgrims came from Pakistan with 729,117 people, then from Indonesia with 478,513 people, and Indonesia with 325,838 people.