SEGAMAT: The decision to temporarily suspend umrah trips has been a difficult one to make but it was done in the public interest following the threat of the new Covid-19 Omicron variant, says Senator Idris Ahmad.

The Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Religious Affairs) said there was no discrimination against Muslims as alleged by some parties.

The decision was made following careful deliberation between the relevant agencies taking into account the recommendations from the Health Ministry regarding the latest threat of the deadly virus, he said.

He said it was a national issue involving members of the public therefore such allegations were highly inconsiderate.

“Don’t slander us, claiming that we want to oppress Muslims. MOH provided data…facts of how the disease is being transmitted from all these countries,” he told reporters after visiting flood victims housed at Sekolah Agama Kuala Paya, near here, on Monday (Jan 3).

Idris said the proposal to make it compulsory for the umrah pilgrims to undergo quarantine at designated hotels or venues instead of at their respective homes could not be implemented due to a shortage of logistics.

“We need at least 1,000 beds a day. In the end, the authorities had to make the decision (to suspend umrah trips). We don’t want the disease to spread, which could cause even more problems (in the future),” he said, adding that he hoped the people could accept the government’s decision as it was made in their interest.

The government had decided to temporarily suspend travel permission to perform umrah starting Jan 8 to curb the spread of the Omicron Covid-19 variant which led to allegations of discrimination against Muslims hurled by some quarters.- Bernama