PRESS RELEASE – On March 16, the Al Baqee Organization will officially register a Universal Periodic Review (UPR) at the United Nations, under the auspices of the Human Rights Council, to denounce Saudi Arabia’s violence, and demand that protection be granted to pilgrims during the Hajj – whichever their religious inclination might be.

“Religious freedom is a basic human right that should suffer no limitation. While Mecca happens to be under the territorial jurisdiction of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, we believe that the holy nature of Mecca and the Hajj pilgrimage, should not be ceded to a clergy whose understanding of the Scriptures is rooted in violence, sectarianism, and fanaticism,” says the Al Baqee Organization.

The Al Baqee Organization (Al Baqee), established in the year 2009 in the State of Illinois, USA, is a nongovernmental organization committed to raising awareness of atrocities and attacks on Muslims and Islamic heritage sites. The organization strives to preserve existing heritage sites and restore destroyed ones, by coordinating with cultural, religious, educational and historical societies around the world.

For decades pilgrims have been physically assaulted, verbally harassed – men, women, and children have been brutalised, tortured and intimidated on account their school of thoughts differ from that of the Saudi regime.

The UPR reads in its introduction: “Systematic persecution of religious minorities by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA, “Saudi Arabia” or “the Kingdom”) is a fact that is well-documented by credible sources. This submission focuses on an often overlooked aspect of religious intolerance which infringes on the human rights of individuals not only in Saudi Arabia, but around the world. Saudi Arabia’s past, current, and planned destruction of cemeteries, shrines, and other historic sites threatens to eradicate Islamic heritage sites of significance to millions of Muslims around the world. In addition, the Kingdom denies Muslim pilgrims who visit Mecca and Medina the opportunity to visit these sites, and systematically abuses pilgrims who attempt to pay respects there.”

And: “This systematic destruction of cultural heritage and denial of religious freedoms violates fundamental norms of international human rights law..”