Kaaba in Mecca.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
It has been more than two years since Gaza residents were last able to visit Mecca for the hajj pilgrimage, being denied exit permits by Egypt. In a bid to fulfill their religious duty, Gazans have launched a social media campaign urging Saudi Arabia to intervene and demand Egypt reopen the Rafah border crossing, thereby allowing them to leave Gaza.
The campaign, spread on Twitter and Facebook under the hashtag “Gaza misses Umrah [the Mecca pilgrimage],” was begun in light of the approaching visit of Saudi Arabia’s King Salman to Cairo later this week.
The Gazan activists called on Salman to “intervene and mount pressure on Egypt to open Rafah border crossing for Gaza residents, who have been deprived from the Umrah for three years.”
Amid Gazans’ protests, a Palestinian initiative has been developed during the recent wave of Palestinian violence against Israelis. The initiative, called “Umrah for every martyr,” aims at commemorating Palestinian terrorists by preforming haj on their behalf.
The initiative has won great popularity in the Arab world, with pictures documenting Arab youth from all over the world next to the holy Kabaa in Mecca, holding banners with a name of a Palestinian martyr being posted on Twitter almost daily.