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GeneralLiberia news

NDP condemns suffering of Muslim pilgrims

By Lewis S. Teh

The National Chairman of the opposition National Development Party (NDP) Musa Sheriff has blamed travel agencies here for ill-treatments meted out against scores of Muslims traveling to Saudi Arabia for Hajj.

Mr. Sheriff, also a representative aspirant, told a news conference on Tuesday, June 27, 2023, at the NDP headquarters on Carey Street in Monrovia that travel agencies received money from Muslims traveling to Saudi Arabia, but they allegedly failed to provide services for which they were paid.

He said the attention of the party has been drawn to undesired conditions Muslims are being subjected to regarding the Hajj.

“We the members of the national executive committee have observed over a period especially five days ago, the untold suffering perpetrated against the Muslims community especially when it comes to the section of the Muslim faith that talks about Hajj”, he notes.

According to him, every year in Liberia, the Muslim community has been faced with issues concerning their departure to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, saying “We really don’t know what the issues are.”

He recalled that last year, similar situation occurred when Muslims traveling to Saudi Arabia had to sleep at the Roberts International Airport in Margibi County for couple of days without proper justification by authorities, something, he stresses, will not be tolerated by the NDP and the Muslim community in Liberia.

“We as members of the NDP are concerned and we are eager to know the root cause when it comes to our delegates, who normally go to attend the Hajj.”

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He also recalled saying five years ago, a Muslim delegation spent nearly four days at the RIA, suffering and no one could say or do something about the situation especially people from government, something he says, drew the attention of the NDP as to why over 800 citizens will be languishing at the airport without any justifiable cause.

Sheriff explained that upon hearing about the incident, the NDP immediately launched an investigation and found out that those going to attend the Hajj were not going on charity missions. Instead, they were people who labored hard to pay the amount of US$6,000 per preference on those who were supposed to go and perform the six religious pillars of Islam.

The Montserrado County electoral district two aspirant adds that the party further asked whether the pilgrims were really paying that amount to attend the Hajj, or it’s something done sacrificially by the government, or they were getting free money from somewhere else.

“But our investigation informs us that our people suffered, labored, and prayed to form part of that lifetime event.”

He explained that the party further inquired and was informed that those wanting to attend the Hajj must pay US$6,000 through travel agencies, adding that unfortunately, those agencies have failed to provide the requisite services for which they received the money.

He didn’t name specific institutions but explained that based on findings, it was established that the agencies responsible for the safe travel of Muslims to Saudi Arabia are at fault, not those that paid their hard-earned money, something he terms as very detestable, discouraging, and harmful.

He noted that it’s difficult to gather that travel agencies made huge profits out of the pilgrims, but yet pretend as if they were rendering free services, which the NDP will not accept.

He wondered if this is the kind of country that Liberians want where people will pay for services and can’t get them, lamenting “It’s totally shameful, unfortunate and embarrassing; these things shouldn’t be happening only to our people.”

Meanwhile, Sheriff reveals that the National Development Party is a fully registered political party that is accredited by the National Elections Commission and part of its mandate is to speak on key national issues.

“We as a registered and certificated political party are under obligation to protect all sides and to speak to critical issues when it becomes necessary. Part of our obligation as a party is to make sure the enjoyment of citizens and their peaceful coexistence and to talk about issues when the wellbeing of our people are being tempered with”, he adds.

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