Thursday, 29 October 2009

Foreign Secretary David Miliband launches 10th Hajj Delegation 2009

Foreign Secretary David Miliband Launches
Tenth Hajj Delegation 2009

Dr. Mozammel Haque

British Foreign Secretary David Miliband has launched this year’s UK Hajj Delegation to Saudi Arabia, yesterday, Tuesday, the 27th of October 2009 from the Blue Room of the Foreign Secretary’s Residence, London, in the presence of Saudi Ambassador Prince Mohammed Bin Nawaf bin Abdul Aziz, Lord Adam Patel and diplomats and other members of the Hajj Delegation, guests and community leaders. Twenty-five thousand UK Muslims will go this year to perform the annual pilgrimage in Makkah with the British government offering advice, support and medical care to its citizens going there. British Hajj Delegation is a team that will provide on the ground medical and consular support for British pilgrims attending the Hajj later next month.

Referring to recently held Eid Reception at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the Foreign Secretary said three messages came through for the non-Muslims to understand better some of the importance of the Hajj; “one is the message of empathy for others that was brought home to me by the various conversations I had. The second is the Islamic belief in the interconnectiveness of all people, which I think is a very important theme. And thirdly the values of Islam of compassion, of equality, of sacrifice, that are an important part of this important time of the year. And I think these are very important messages for all of us, whether or not we’re Muslim or non Muslim, and the chance for the whole of Britain to be educated about the faith and commitments of two million of our fellow citizens is I think an important wider message that comes through this Hajj Delegation that is now such an important part of British Muslim life,” mentioned Foreign Secretary.

Referring to French Hajj Delegation, Miliband, M.P. said, “I gather that our French friends have now copied us and now have a French Hajj Delegation. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and so we should welcome the fact, in a funny way, that Britain is not now the only European country with a Government sponsored Hajj Delegation, but it certainly gives me great pleasure that ours is the first and the best Hajj Delegation. And I’m confident that this year’s Hajj Delegation will live up to the enormously high standard of its predecessors and make the contribution to British society as well as more broadly, that I think is very, very important.”

Prince Mohammed Bin Nawaf bin Abdulaziz, the Ambassador of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to the United Kingdom and Ireland, said, “During Hajj, millions of Muslims from all over the world gather in the same spots to perform the same rituals at the same times, standing together on equal footing and dressed as one.”

Speaking about the importance of Hajj, Prince Mohammad said, “Hajj is a true reflection of the exalted principles of equality, modesty and human brotherhood that are at the heart of Islam. This also makes Hajj the most impressive manifestation of Islam’s ability to cross borders and cultures and unite nations.”

Speaking about the recent development of the Haramain for the convenience of the Pilgrims, the Saudi Ambassador mentioned the massive expansion programme and new projects have been implemented. He said, “Those who will perform Hajj this year will see stunning developments.”

“The huge expansion of the Mas’a, the extensive development of the Mena area and the expansion of the open courtyard around the Holy Mosque are just a few examples of such accomplishments,” mentioned the Saudi Ambassador.

Prince Mohammad also spoke about the Swine Flu and the medical preparation that the Government of Saudi Arabia has undertaken. As regards the vaccination against HINI Flu, the Saudi Ambassador said, “This year, however, the Saudi Health Authorities have taken additional measures to deal with any adverse effects of this new strain of flu.”

“The Kingdom has taken additional precautions by stockpiling sufficient quantities of anti-viral drugs. There will be three laboratories in Makkah and a fourth at the Holy places of Mina and Muzdalifah, specially dedicated to conducting tests on anyone displaying symptoms of the HINI flu Virus. Moreover an additional 15,000 medical personnel have been recruited to serve the needs of the pilgrims in Makkah, Madinah and the other Holy places,” mentioned the Saudi Ambassador.

Prince Mohammad also added, “In addition the Saudi Health authorities have launched a system for the automated tracking of epidemics during the Hajj season which will create a centralised database, which will assist the development of health services for pilgrims this year and beyond.,”

The Saudi Ambassador also informed, “Out of approximately two million British Muslims in the United Kingdom, about 50,000 on average, performed Hajj or Umrah last year and the year before. A similar or a larger number is expected this year. Mentioning about the British Hujjaj, the Saudi Ambassador assured that the Government of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques will do everything it can to ensure that this year’s pilgrimage begins and concludes safely and peacefully, that the mission of the British Hajj Delegation is a successful one, and that the British Pilgrims’ journey to the Holy places in Saudi Arabia is a safe and fulfilling one.”

Praising the British Hajj Delegation, the Saudi Ambassador expressed his “sincere thanks and appreciation firstly to the Foreign Secretary and secondly to the Hajj Desk at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office – for the invaluable support they extend annually to the British Hajj Delegation, said Prince Mohammad and also thanked the chairman and all members of the British Hajj Delegation “for their contribution to the success of the Hajj pilgrimage.”

The Saudi Ambassador concluded his speech by “wishing the British Hajj Delegation and all British Muslims who are performing Hajj this year, a safe journey, a blissful visit to the Holy Places, an accepted Hajj and a safe return to their homes and loved ones.”

The British Hajj Delegation teams will leave for Jeddah on 11 November and is scheduled to return on 5 December.

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