MAKKAH: SULTAN AL-TAMIMI | ARAB NEWS STAFF
Published — Monday 2 September 2013
MAKKAH: Immediate deportation to imprisonment for at least a year await violators of Haj regulations, the authorities said on Sunday at the launch of a campaign to keep the number of pilgrims to a minimum level in the coming Haj season. The campaign is meant to avoid congestion in the holy city, where expansion work is still going on, particularly at the mataf (circumambulation) area at the Grand Mosque.
While the number of foreign pilgrims had been reduced by slashing the quota for each country, an influx of unauthorized pilgrims within the Kingdom could lead to chaos, as happened last year.
The Haj season is expected to begin during the second week of October.
Prince Khaled Al-Faisal, governor of Makkah Region, said the sanctions include three categories of offenders:
• Foreign violators caught performing Haj without permit would be immediately deported immediately and banned from entering the Kingdom for ten years.
• Owners of vehicles used to smuggle illegal pilgrims to the holy cities would be detained and fined, and their vehicles impounded; and
• Fake Haj campaign organizers would be referred to the Bureau of Investigation and Prosecution for prosecution and offenders found guilty by the courts would be sentenced to jail terms of not less than one year without any amnesty.
Prince Khaled appealed to those who plan to insist on performing Haj, even without permit, to refrain from doing so and give way to pilgrims from abroad.
Utmost consideration is required to make it easier for those pilgrims to perform their religious duty as some of them might be performing it for the last time in their lives, he said.
“When you receive guests at your own home, you provide them the best hospitable gesture, the best part of your house, the best food in your house,” he added.
Haj Minister Bandar Hajjar pointed out that the government does not get paid any sum from pilgrims. He said the amount paid by pilgrims goes to national institutions for services they provide. He said the Haj Ministry was considering at the moment rating Haj and Umrah institutions to put in place convenient pricing for such services.
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