I am more certain than ever that Muslims need to boycott the multibillion-dollar industry of the Hajj, its rituals and a Saudi regime that exploits its role as “custodian” of the holy mosques in Mecca and Medina to secure moral immunity. This despite the country’s awful human rights record, the denial of the vote for women, deadly stampedes and fires like the Hajj carnage, and the exporting of a violent interpretation of Islam.
Malaysian-American singer and songwriter Ani Zonneveld, president of Muslims for Progressive Values, calls for Muslims to boycott the Hajj. “Many in the progressive Muslim community have quietly boycotted hajj for some years as the idea of cleaning one’s soul in a land morally corrupt, rife with human rights abuses and materialism repulses them,” says Zonneveld. “We call on Muslims worldwide to reflect: supporting such a corrupt regime makes us complicit.”
Just this June, for example, a Saudi court reportedly upheld a sentence of 1,000 lashes and 10 years in prison against a human rights activist and blogger, Raif Badawi, for “apostasy.” On September 11, a crane on a project operated by the Saudi Binladin Group, started by Osama bin Laden’s father, fell to the marbled floors of the palatial mosque in Mecca, killing more than 100 pilgrims and injuring hundreds of others.