By George Grant.
Tripoli, 7 August:
NTC Chairman Mustafa Abdul Jalil has been left stranded in his hometown of Bayda following a mass . . .[restrict]diversion of flights to Saudi Arabia taking pilgrims to perform Umrah in Mecca during Ramadan.
Jalil told a Libya Herald source this afternoon that he had been trying to get a plane from Labraq airport for the past two days, but such was the shortage of aircraft that no exception could be made even for someone who is in effect acting head of state.
Unlike Haj, which should be performed by every able-bodied Muslim during his or her lifetime, Umrah is not compulsory but is highly recommended. It can be performed most of the year, but there is always a surge in pilgrims during Ramadan. Umrah in Ramadan is viewed as equal in worthiness to Haj.
With the opening of the National Congress just 24 hours away, Jalil must be back in Tripoli by tomorrow, Wednesday, at the very latest. The ceremony will see the NTC formally hand power to the Congress, with the presence of the NTC Chairman consequently central to proceedings. [/restrict]