Hajj Pilgrims to Wear Masks to Prevent Spread of Mers Virus

July 13, 2013

THE DAILY TELEGRAPH: Saudi Arabia has issued a series of rules to pilgrims travelling to Mecca for the Hajj that will ban the elderly and force others to wear respiratory masks to prevent the Mers coronavirus turning into an epidemic.

Health ministry regulations for the pilgrimage are the strictest in history as the government seeks to contain the spread of the new SARS-like condition which has affected 85 and killed 41.

Almost all those who have contracted Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (Mers) have been in Saudi Arabia or had contact with people who contracted it there. The first recorded Mers death was in June last year in Saudi Arabia.

(Tens of millions of Muslims from around the world are expected to take part in the Hajj this October. The emergence of the mysterious virus ahead of the pilgrimage has been described as the single biggest worldwide public health since the deadly Sars pandemic. )


Obama Justice Department sues on behalf of Muslim teacher who demanded three weeks off for hajj in the middle of the school year

March 24, 2011

“Justice Department sues on behalf of Muslim teacher, triggering debate,” by Jerry Markon in the Washington Post:

BERKELEY, Ill. — Safoorah Khan had taught middle school math for only nine months in this tiny Chicago suburb when she made an unusual request. She wanted three weeks off for a pilgrimage to Mecca.
The school district, faced with losing its only math lab instructor during the critical end-of-semester marking period, said no. Khan, a devout Muslim, resigned and made the trip anyway.
Justice Department lawyers examined the same set of facts and reached a different conclusion: that the school district’s decision amounted to outright discrimination against Khan. They filed an unusual lawsuit, accusing the district of violating her civil rights by forcing her to choose between her job and her faith.