Connect with us


Egypt to prosecute travel agents over illegal Hajj trips



Egypt to prosecute travel agents over illegal Hajj trips

Hajj permits are allocated to countries on a quota system and distributed to individuals via a lottery Image Courtesy AFP

According to the cabinet, Egyptian Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly ordered the suspension of the licenses of sixteen tourism businesses on Saturday and forwarded the managers of those organizations to the public prosecutor’s office for allegedly assisting the illicit journey of pilgrims to Mecca.

The directive was issued after reports from several nations of over 1,100 fatalities during this year’s hajj, many of which were linked to the extreme heat.

Earlier this week, Arab diplomats told AFP that 658 deaths were Egyptian-related, with 630 of those deaths being unregistered pilgrims.

“The prime minister has ordered the licences of these companies to be revoked, their managers to be referred to the public prosecutor and the imposition of a fine to benefit the families of the pilgrims who died because of them,” the Egyptian cabinet said in a statement.

It said the rise in the deaths of unregistered Egyptian pilgrims stemmed from some companies which “organised the hajj programmes using a personal visit visa, which prevents its holders from entering Mecca” via official channels.

On Friday a senior Saudi official defended the Gulf kingdom’s management of the pilgrimage.

Hajj permits are allocated to countries on a quota system and distributed to individuals via a lottery.

Even for those who can obtain them, the steep costs spur many pilgrims to attempt the hajj without a permit, though they risk arrest and deportation if caught by Saudi security forces.

The irregular route, which can save pilgrims thousands of dollars, has become increasingly popular since 2019 when Saudi Arabia introduced a general tourism visa which has made it easier to enter the Gulf kingdom.

The senior official said the Saudi government had confirmed 577 deaths for the two busiest days of hajj: Saturday, when pilgrims gathered for hours of prayers in the blazing sun on Mount Arafat, and Sunday, when they participated in the “stoning of the devil” ritual in Mina.

“This happened amid difficult weather conditions and a very harsh temperature,” the official said, while acknowledging that the 577 figure was partial and did not cover all of hajj, which formally ended on Wednesday.

The hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam, and all Muslims with the means must complete it at least once in their lives.

Saudi officials had earlier said 1.8 million pilgrims took part this year, a similar total to last year, and that 1.6 million came from abroad.

The timing of the hajj is determined by the Islamic lunar calendar, shifting forward each year in the Gregorian calendar.

For the past several years the mainly outdoor rituals have fallen during the sweltering Saudi summer.

Find us on YouTube


Continue Reading