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Fri 11 May 2018 12:41 AM

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UK-based Hajj group condemns rogue tour operators

Association of British Hujjaj (Pilgrims) UK highlights 'culture of corruption and malpractice' among operators offering Saudi packages

UK-based Hajj group condemns rogue tour operators
Muslim pilgrims circumambulate the Kaaba, Islam's holiest shrine, at the Grand Mosque in Saudi Arabia's holy city of Makkah during the annual Hajj pilgrimage. (KARIM SAHIB/AFP/Getty Images)

The UK-based Association of British Hujjaj (Pilgrims) (ABH), a Hajj-specific organisation working for the welfare and wellbeing of pilgrims, has strongly condemned the growing culture of corruption and malpractice promoted by rogue and unscrupulous Hajj service providers.

The ABH said in a statement that these service providers are indulging in "all sorts of malpractices and exploitation, which is causing extreme hardship, trauma, and mental anguish to vulnerable Hajj/Umrah pilgrims from around the world including the sick, the elderly, and the disabled".

These practices of exploitations and scams have now become a global phenomenon, it added.

The ABH said the most alarming aspect of this growing culture of corruption and malpractice is that it has plagued the Hajj/Umrah travel industry to the extent that it is becoming a way of life.

"Values and norms have changed. The rogue and unscrupulous service providers have no hesitation in preying on vulnerable pilgrims. These scammers take undue advantage of pilgrims by charging extortionate prices for their services," it warned.

"It is a complete rip-off compared to similar travel packages to other destinations around the world, especially when taking into consideration that many pilgrims are likely to have spent their lifesavings in order to fulfil their religious obligation. The denial of basic human rights and dignity of the pilgrims is highly deplorable and authorities must not allow it to continue," it added.

The ABH said it has once again called upon authorities in Saudi Arabia to adopt a zero tolerance policy and carry out anti-corruption crackdowns against these rogue service providers.

"These corrupt service providers should not be allowed to get away but instead should be held accountable in a court of law so that Hajj/Umrah pilgrims may perform their religious obligations in peace and harmony," the statement said.

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