Because of the public health emergency over coronavirus fears, Saudi Arabia has now banned foreign pilgrims from visiting Islam’s holiest shrines.
It’s left hundreds of Muslims in North Texans in travel turmoil, wondering what to do about their upcoming visits.
Athar Haq’s family trip to Mecca and Medina is two weeks away. He and his wife are planning to take their kids on their first pilgrimage.
“With this being my kids’ first trip, it really does concern us. It causes us some worry,” said Athar Haq, who lives in the Las Colinas area.
But now, all he can do is stay in touch with his travel agent.
“They’ve just said, right now things are looking positive. As of right now, we’re telling the kids we’re hoping to go, and we’re just praying and hoping we can make the pilgrimage,” Haq said.
Faizan Syed is the Executive Director for the Council on American-Islamic Relations in DFW.
Full coverage of the COVID-19 outbreak and how it impacts you
He says 70 students from a local Islamic school were planning a trip to Mecca for their spring break.
“Now that’s up in the air, and they might go, they might not go, it’s created a lot of tension in our community. No one really knows what’s going to happen next,” says Faizan Syed of CAIR DFW.
Haq says he’d understand if the trip is canceled over coronavirus concerns.
“The money, for us, is not as important as the spiritual connection and giving the kids that experience,” Haq said.
He hopes they get that experience.
“As of right now, we’re telling the kids we’re hoping to go, and we’re just praying and hoping we can make the pilgrimage,” he said.