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Hundreds Of Lives Are Lost On Illegal Hajj Routes: A Serious Warning To Travelers

Photo-AFP

Hundreds of lives were tragically lost during this year's Hajj pilgrimage in Mecca, primarily due to scorching temperatures exceeding 50 degrees Celsius. Shockingly, 83% of these fatalities occurred among pilgrims who opted for illegal routes, underscoring the grave risks associated with such journeys. According to Saudi authorities, many of these pilgrims paid exorbitant fees to illegal tour operators in hopes of bypassing official channels. Instead of safe, regulated travel in air-conditioned buses and secure accommodations, these pilgrims faced perilous conditions, trekking through the harsh desert heat for miles.

The Hajj, one of Islam's Five Pillars, mandates that all Muslims with the means must complete the pilgrimage at least once in their lifetime. Hajj permits are allocated to countries based on a quota system and distributed through a lottery to individuals.

Pilgrims often choose illegal routes for various reasons. Some perceive it as a cheaper alternative to official permits, which can be costly, while others seek to avoid lengthy application processes and waiting lists. There are also cases where pilgrims may be unaware of the legal and safety risks involved.

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Taking illegal routes poses numerous risks, including physical harm due to harsh desert conditions, dehydration, and exhaustion. Pilgrims caught using illegal routes face potential arrest, fines, and deportation. Moreover, inadequate medical screenings and vaccinations increase the risk of disease transmission, while pilgrims may also fall victim to exploitation by human traffickers and scams.

In response to the tragic incidents, governments are taking action. For instance, Egyptian Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly recently ordered the revocation of licenses from 16 tourism companies involved in organizing illegal pilgrimages to Mecca. These companies had used personal visit visas, which prevent holders from entering Mecca via official channels, contributing to the rise in deaths among unregistered Egyptian pilgrims.

The incidents serve as a stark reminder of the dangers associated with illegal Hajj journeys and the critical importance of adhering to official channels to ensure pilgrim safety.

June 25, 2024 5:57 p.m. 483

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