Stringent penalties against illegal pilgrims

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Cairo: Saudi authorities have warned Muslim foreigners residing in the kingdom and wishing to participate in next month’s Haj pilgrimage against going on the trip without official permits.

Expatriate violators face deportation and a ban from re-entering the kingdom for 10 years, Saudi media reported on Sunday.

The country’s General Security Department said Saudi nationals and foreign residents will not be allowed into Makkah without the official permit.

Those wishing to perform the Haj have to obtain the required permit beforehand by registration with companies licensed inside the kingdom to arrange pilgrimage journeys, the department said.

“He who does not carry this permit will not be allowed into Makkah. Penalties are waiting the violators,” the authorities added in a statement.

It threatened unspecified penalties against operators of buses carrying illegal pilgrims.

The Saudi Passports Department has formed several committees now posted at entrances to Makkah to identify and mete out on-spot penalties against operators of vehicles transporting illegal pilgrims, Okaz newspaper reported Sunday.

Anyone caught transporting such pilgrims will be jailed for 15 days and fined 10,000 Saudi riyals for each illegal pilgrim, according to the report. The repeat offender is liable to two-month imprisonment and a fine of 25,000 riyals for each pilgrim.

The measures are aimed at facilitating Haj rituals for the people attending the annual event. Nearly two million Muslims from outside Saudi Arabia are expected to participate in the Haj congregation due later in August.

The Haj is one of Islam’s five pillars. Muslims are expected to perform it at least once in their lives if they can afford it and are physically able.

Gulf News

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