19 January 2018

Indonesia stops 40 pilgrims from travel to Mecca

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Indonesia’s immigration office said Thursday it had thwarted the illegal departure of 40 pilgrims to Mecca, the Saudi Arabian city that is Islam's holiest site. reports citing AA.

Ramli, head of the South Sulawesi immigration division at the Law and Human Rights Ministry told that the pilgrims were stopped at the airport in provincial capital Makassar.

They were trying to leave for Saudi Arabia by traveling through Singapore and Sri Lanka, Ramli, who like many Indonesians only uses one name, added.

“They wanted to perform pilgrimage, using the illegal procedure,” he said. This year, the Hajj runs from Aug. 30 to Sept. 4.

When immigration officers questioned them, some said that they wanted to perform the pilgrimage, or Hajj, even though they only had tourist visas.

Authorities are investigating the case and have sent the pilgrims home.

All of the pilgrims came from South Sulawesi province, where residents have to wait for up to 29 years to perform the pilgrimage if they register with the government.

Quotas for the annual pilgrimage are determined by the Saudi government based on the number of Muslims in each country. For every one million Muslims, 1,000 can perform the pilgrimage.

As the recipient of the largest Hajj quota, Indonesia -- which has a population of around 256 million -- sends around 200,000 pilgrims to Mecca and Medina every year for the largest annual gathering of people in the world.

Abdul Djamil, directorate-general of Hajj and Umrah at the Ministry of Religious Affairs, told Anadolu Agency that the waiting list in Indonesia was very long as a large number of residents are interested.

Moreover in 2013, the quota of Indonesia's Hajj pilgrims and other countries was decreased to 20 percent due to construction work underway at the Grand Mosque in Mecca.

Currently, there are more than 2 million Indonesians in the waiting list, prompting some to seek alternatives.

Last August, 177 Indonesians were stopped from boarding an early morning flight to Saudi Arabia after Hajj passports from the Philippines were confiscated from them.

2017.08.10 / 18:59
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