Saudi Arabia has blocked Syrian citizens from entering the country to perform the annual Muslim pilgrimage of Hajj, Syrian state media says. "The Syrian High Committee of hajj has announced the halt to the pilgrimage this year, due to a failure to reach consensus with the Saudi authorities," the official SANA news agency reported on Tuesday. According to the report, the Syrian committee "took all necessary steps for the 2012 hajj season, but the relevant ministry in Saudi Arabia did not sign the accord as it does every year".
The hajj to Mecca -- the world's largest annual human assembly -- is one of the five pillars of Islam and must be performed at least once in a lifetime by all those Muslims who are able to.Saudi’s move would be the latest in a string of measures adopted by Riyadh against the government of Syria. Syria has been the scene of violence by armed groups since March 2011. The violence has claimed the lives of hundreds of people, including many security forces. Damascus blames “outlaws, saboteurs, and armed terrorist groups” for the unrest, asserting that it is being orchestrated from abroad. Saudi Arabia, Qatar and several other Arab countries are funding and arming terrorists groups fighting against the Syrian government. PG/JR