Faizel Patel, Radio Islam News – 17-10-2016
While there has been a huge outcry from the Muslim community about the Umrah visa fees proposed by the Saudi government, a post on social media says the kingdom is justified in its decision to charge the exorbitant cost.
Yesterday the newly formed Anti-Umrah Visa Fee committee condemned the increase in visa fees saying they want an immediate suspension & scrapping of the charges.
In the Facebook post, attorney Mohammed Coovadia writes there a number of reasons for the high Umrah visa fees.
Coovadia says the charges are only for those who go for Umrah more than once a year and take up the place of someone else who could also be embarking on pilgrimage.
“Once a year is more than fair for any person and like haj has quotas this is a perfectly acceptable quota for those who wish to make many trips through the year.”
He also cites costs of maintaining the holy sites in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
“It costs the Saudi government money to upkeep the haram. Water electricity aircons staff police cleaners renovation costs toilets all cost money to maintain 24 hours a day. You pay for your local masjid upkeep and don’t make any issue but want to complain when the Haram requires you to assist in its maintenance.”
Coovadia also says any remarks about funding the war (Yemen) is unfounded and cannot be accepted.
He says just because the Saudi government never charged for Umrah visas before doesn’t indicate that they should continue to subsidise Muslims worship as they have benefitted over the years and this is a small price to pay for embarking on a journey to Makkah and Medina.
Coovadia says the payment is allowed in shariah and a government can impose reasonable charges for infrastructure and services that it renders and people are obliged to pay when demanded to do so.