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Moroccan agencies shout haro on fraudulent pilgrims

Although devotional, Hajj rituals are not immune to “fraud”. Moroccan citizens, who travel to the Holy Land for the initial purpose of performing the rituals of Umrah in the month of Ramadan, prolong their stay illegally in order to perform the rituals of Hajj. However, the Umrah visa that Saudi Arabia grants is only for Umrah and the duration of stay specified therein does not exceed 30 days, and it cannot be exceeded in any case.

According to data obtained by Hespress thanks to a source in Saudi Arabia, these pilgrims resort to this “deception” thanks to the complicity of networks composed of people residing in Saudi Arabia. The latter are responsible for hosting and feeding the “pilgrims” until the Moussem of the Hajj against money of course. This ploy is usually used to avoid the mechanism of the Hajj lottery, which grants citizens open doors to Saudi Arabia. Our source adds that all pilgrims who have not returned to their country of origin after the expiry of the validity period of the visa will not be allowed to re-enter Saudi territory for ten years from the date their fingerprint has been taken (visa).

Pilgrims who follow this subterfuge choose offers from the cheapest travel agencies, which offer Umrah from 18,000 dirhams. Arrived on site, they only stay at the hotel for a few days only, before going to the resident who welcomes them until the Hajj. They are generally cared for in marginal neighborhoods on the outskirts of cities. Which in itself is “frauding” the law of Hajj in Saudi Arabia, where such deviations are generally not trifled with. According to our source, the accommodation process for “fraudulent pilgrims, Moroccans and other nationalities”, is provided by networks that make sure to facilitate the Hajj rituals. In addition to the people assigned to their reception and accommodation, guides show them the routes to follow to perform their ritual by bypassing the controls, in particular at Mîna (about 5 km east of Mecca, and which is on the road to Mount Arafat).

Our interlocutor clarified that anyone violating the Hajj system without authorization will no longer be able to enter the holy places, calling on all pilgrims traveling to Saudi Arabia to perform the rites of Umrah or Hajj to “ respect the system in place in order not to be detained and to incur legal measures against them. Our message is for all pilgrims from any country in the world and it states to leave Saudi Arabia before the end of the visa “. Financially, also “cheating pilgrims”cause significant financial losses to Moroccan travel agencies with each violation.

Indeed, the Saudi authorities imposed a fine of 25,000 Saudi riyals, or 66,000 Moroccan dirhams for each pilgrim who did not return to Morocco. On the other hand, we’re not just cracking down on this fraud. Recently, the Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah fined ten agencies $13,000 for failing to provide adequate services to pilgrims. The agencies were found guilty of negligence, breach of duty and failing to meet their obligations to pilgrims regarding transportation and accommodation, the ministry said in a statement on Monday.

Tayeb Ait Bah, a Moroccan travel agent who escorts pilgrims for their ritual, laments the fact in a statement to Hespress. “What is the fault of the travel agent? The necessary legal procedures were taken and the citizen was allowed to perform the rites of Umrah. Only when he arrives in Saudi Arabia, he violates the law of the land. How am I responsible for his behavior?? “. Our interlocutor, however, appreciates the new measures taken by the Saudi authorities to control the process of pilgrims making the large or small pilgrimage. “Personal data, now linked to each traveler, is recorded through a digital platform, in addition to their fingerprint”, explains our interlocutor. However, he regrets being held, as travel agents, “responsible for those who break the law”.

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