In an unprecedented move, an NGO named Al Haramain Watch, established in 2018, has initiated a campaign to establish international control on the mosques in Mecca and Medina, reported Middle East Monitor. The organisation, also known by the name of International Commission to Monitor Saudi Administration of the Two Holy Mosques, has garnered support from 100 Islamic scholars and ‘human rights activists’ in its campaign to nullify the hegemony of the Saudi Kingdom over the Holiest shrines in Islam.
Through its campaign, the NGO wants to raise awareness among Islamic nations and Muslim communities in Europe and US about the Saudi regime’s policies on pilgrimage to the twin cities. The organisation is of the belief that the Saudi Government has failed to provide unequivocal access to all Muslims wanting to visit the Holy shrines. The Saudi monarchy has restricted Muslims from Qatar and Iran (revoked in 2017) to make the Hajj pilgrimage.
Demand for International Control
In view of the travel restrictions to Saudi Arabia, Al Haramain Watch called out the kingdom for its violation of international law and its founder’s vision. The NGO in its petition has accused the Saudi Government of ‘permanent politicisation’ and absence of strategic development in managing the mosques.
It called upon Islamic countries as well as the media to form an ‘interim framework’ for the management of the Holy sites. The organisation suggested setting up a high-level committee wherein members aka Islamic countries are elected for 4 years. Their work will be reviewed and supervised by other member states. Supposedly, a petitioner, Azmi Abdul Hamid, is in possession of a historical document allegedly written by Saudi Arabia founder Abdulaziz Bin Saud, wherein he stated that all Muslims, had the right to run the administration of the two mosques.
The organisation was established with the objective of preventing the politicisation of Islamic pilgrimages, ensuring proper management of the mosques at Mecca and Medina, and establishment of sovereign funds consisting of the income generated from Hajj and Umrah pilgrimages. Similar demands were earlier made in the past by a Turkish politician in the year 2014. Another Turkish think-tank had also demanded an ‘Islamic Vatican.’