Calls for internationalisation of holy sites 'a declaration of war,' Saudi Arabia says

Saudi Arabia has called Qatar's request to internationalise the country's holy sites 'an aggressive act and a declaration of war', but Qatar denies making such calls

Qatar accused the Saudis of politicising hajj and addressed the United Nations Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion
Qatar accused the Saudis of politicising hajj and addressed the United Nations Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion

Saudi Arabia's foreign minister called what he said was Qatar's demand for an internationalidation of the Muslim hajj pilgrimage a declaration of war against the kingdom, Saudi-owned Al Arabiya television said on Sunday.

"Qatar's demands to internationalise the holy sites is aggressive and a declaration of war against the kingdom," Adel al-Jubeir was quoted saying on Al Arabiya's website.

"We reserve the right to respond to any party working in the field of internationalization of the holy sites," Al-Jubeir said in an interview with Al Arabiya and Al Hadath on the sidelines of the four-way meeting in Manama.

Previousely,  Adel al-Jubeir rejected what he said were Qatar’s attempts to politicise Hajj matters and reiterated that Qataris were welcome to perform the pilgrimage.

“The kingdom’s history is clear in facilitating the arrival of pilgrims,” he added.

But Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani said no official from his country had made such a call.

"We are tired of responding to false information and stories invented from nothing," Sheikh Mohammed told Al Jazeera TV.

Qatar did accuse the Saudis of politicising hajj and addressed the United Nations Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion on Saturday, expressing concern about obstacles facing Qataris who want to attend hajj this year.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain previously issued a list of 13 demands for Qatar, which included curtailing its support for the Muslim Brotherhood, shutting down the Doha-based Al Jazeera channel, closing a Turkish military base and downgrading its relations with Gulf enemy Iran.

On Sunday, foreign ministers of the four countries said they were ready for dialogue with Qatar if it showed willingness to tackle their demands.

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