PREMIUMSaudi’s sudden ‘umrah’ ban leaves pilgrims heartbroken

first_imgLog in with your social account Facebook Saudi Arabia’s decision to temporarily halt all umrah (minor haj) pilgrimages amid fears of a coronavirus outbreak shocked hundreds of Indonesian pilgrims who were left in uncertainty at airports and forced to cancel their journeys on Thursday.Among the pilgrims was Suyato, 59, from Tangerang, Banten, who told The Jakarta Post in tears that he had only learned about the ban upon his arrival at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport at midday on Thursday.Suyato, his wife Mujirah and his umrah group of 33 other pilgrims were initially scheduled to fly to Saudi Arabia at 1.30 p.m., only to be told by his travel agent that the trip would be canceled.”It would’ve been my first time performing umrah. I’ve been waiting for three years, but I also understand that this measure has to be taken because of the virus. I hope my trip can be rescheduled soon,” Suyato s… Linkedin Forgot Password ? Google Topics : LOG INDon’t have an account? Register here haj pilgrims haj-pilgrimage umrah umrah-pilgrims Saudi-Arabia coronavirus COVID-19 restriction pilgrimagelast_img read more

Protests shake Rio hours before opening Olympics gala

first_imgBearers Diego Scofano (L) holds the Olympic Torch of Rio 2016 Olympic Games during a torch relay with Giuseppe Pellegrino atop the Sugarloaf in Rio de Janeiro on August 5, 2016. PHOTO AFPRio de Janeiro, Brazil | AFP |Thousands of Brazilians angry at political upheaval, corruption and the cost of the Rio Olympics blocked traffic in protests hours before the gala opening ceremony.Most people came to vent anger at center-right interim president Michel Temer who took power in May on the suspension of the elected leftist president, Dilma Rousseff, for an impeachment trial that her supporters claim amounts to a coup.The demonstrators, however, also targeted the Olympics, saying the billions of dollars spent on staging South America’s first Games fueled corruption and only helped the elite.Waving signs that read “No to the Olympics!” and “Temer out!”, about 3,000 people blocked a major avenue outside the luxury Copacabana Palace Hotel where many Olympic team members are staying.Guests with Olympic accreditation around their necks looked down from the hotel terrace at the protest, while the crowd jeered at vehicles taking Olympic VIPs and athletes through the upscale neighborhood.When a limousine surrounded by police outriders came through, the crowd surged forward, chanting “no to the coup” and “putschists, fascists, we won’t let them pass!”The protest was the latest unwelcome distraction for Brazilian authorities and Olympic organizers ahead of the opening ceremony at the 78,600 capacity Maracana stadium.Authorities are also dealing with rampant crime, including a lengthening list of muggings against Olympic delegates and journalists, despite the deployment of 85,000 soldiers and police to protect the Games.Police at the Copacabana protest, which was to be followed by more demonstrations near the Maracana stadium, were restrained.Even when the protesters blocked the busy Avenida Atlantica, causing a major traffic snarl-up, the dozens of officers held back. The tactic was in marked contrast to the tear gas and rubber bullets used several times in the last few days to clear protesters from the Olympic torch relay. Just a facade Protesters, many of them from Rousseff’s leftist Workers’ Party, said Brazil’s deep economic and social problems are being swept under the carpet for the Olympics. “They’re holding the Olympics when people are having a very hard time,” said Ricardo Parents 59, a psychologist.“The Olympics is a facade, it’s for show. It doesn’t represent the reality of Brazil. They want to show everything nice and perfect.”Over and over again the crowd chanted “Temer out” and called for Rousseff’s return.She is charged with breaking budgetary laws and looks almost certain to be thrown out of office by the Senate in the next few weeks at the end of an impeachment process that she says has been manipulated by Brazil’s right, calling Temer the chief “conspirator.”“I am demonstrating for democracy in Brazil. The world is watching so we are here to denounce the coup,” said one demonstrator, Iraci Franca, 57, a nurse.She also said that the Games were a distraction at a time of national economic crisis.“It’s very hard right now in Rio state for education and health because of the lack of funds and non-payment of salaries,” she said.Rio de Janeiro won the right in 2009 to host the Olympic Games at a time when Brazil was economically and politically on the rise. The collapse in stability and wealth since then has been brutal.Temer is to open the Games at the Maracana stadium, while Rousseff and her predecessor and political mentor Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva have refused to attend the ceremony.With opponents promising to boo Temer at the stadium, organizers plan to play loud music immediately after his remarks and mask the heckling, according to Brazilian media.“We want to take advantage when the world’s attention is on Brazil to denounce what’s happening, how we are on the path to dictatorship,” said one demonstrator, Ubiratan Delgado, a 59-year-old engineer.“We’re not against the Olympics, it’s the criminal Olympics we oppose.”Share on: WhatsApplast_img read more

Bolt has ‘touch like a trampoline’ – A-League striker

first_imgSydney, Australia | AFP | Former Ireland striker Andy Keogh blasted Usain Bolt as having “a touch like a trampoline” Friday as the coach of the Central Coast Mariners refused to say whether he believes the sprint star can make it as a footballer.Keogh, who plays for Perth Glory, said it would be a “kick in the teeth” to footballers if the eight-time Olympic champion earns a professional contract with Australia’s Mariners.The 32-year-old Jamaican, who retired from athletics last year, has been on trial with the A-League club since August but contract negotiations have stalled and he is no longer training.Sydney’s Daily Telegraph reported this week that Bolt’s representatives were initially seeking Aus$3 million (US$2.1 million) but the Mariners have offered closer to Aus$150,000.The Mariners have said it appears unlikely the Jamaican will sign unless a third-party agreement can be found to deliver him more money.Keogh, who used to play for Wolves and Cardiff, was blunt in his assessment of Bolt’s footballing prowess.He told Fox Sports the 100m world-record holder had a touch “like a trampoline” and that “he’s not going to be able to make it”.“It’s nice to have the attention on the A-League but him playing in the A-League, that’s not for me,” said Keogh, who made 30 appearances for his country. “He’s shown a bit (of potential) but it’s a little bit of a kick in the teeth to the professionals that are in the league.”He added that “if there’s someone who genuinely thinks he’d be a good football addition, I don’t think they should be in a position to make those calls”.Mariners boss Mike Mulvey was peppered with questions about Bolt at a press conference Friday, batting most of them away.“There’s no update. He’s not at training and I’m just concentrating on the lads I have here,” he said, insisting the Bolt saga was not a distraction.Pressed on whether Bolt had the ability to make it as a footballer, he replied: “I’ll say this one more time — my focus is on the game on Saturday and on the players contracted for the Central Coast Mariners and that is how it should be.”Bolt, who retired from athletics last year, has previously tried out with clubs in Germany, South Africa and Norway.He recently turned down a two-year, trial-free deal from cashed-up Maltese champions Valletta.Share on: WhatsApplast_img read more