Saudi authorities evict 300,000 unregistered pilgrims from Mecca ahead of Hajj

Muslim worshipers gather around the Kaaba, Islam's holiest shrine, at the Grand Mosque in the holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia, June 4, 2024, as pilgrims arrive ahead of the annual Hajj pilgrimage . — AFP
  • 153,998 foreigners with tourist visas were rejected.
  • Authorities also arrested another 171,587 people in Saudi Arabia.
  • More than 1.3 million registered pilgrims arrived for the Hajj.

Saudi Arabia announced on Saturday that security forces had expelled hundreds of thousands of unauthorized pilgrims from Mecca ahead of the upcoming annual Hajj pilgrimage.

Saudi officials have revealed that crowd management during the Hajj, which is one of the five pillars of Islam, is a major concern as it attracted more than 1.8 million Muslims last year. AFP reported.

Those turned away in recent days from the holy city, home to the Grand Mosque and the Kaaba, include 153,998 foreigners who traveled from abroad on tourist visas instead of visas required for the Hajj, the official said. Saudi Press Agency saying.

Additionally, Saudi authorities have detained another 171,587 people who reside in Saudi Arabia but are not residents of Mecca and did not have Hajj permits. SPA saying.

The Hajj, which begins on June 14, must be performed at least once by all Muslims with the means and involves a series of rituals performed over at least four days in and around Mecca in western Arabia. Saudi.

Many seek to complete the rites through unofficial channels, as obtaining formal permits and travel packages can be extremely expensive, with limited places for pilgrims from each country.

The latest move by Saudi officials is an effort to prevent a repeat of the 2015 stampede in Mina, near Mecca, in which up to 2,300 people died during the ritual stoning of the devil.

As of Saturday, more than 1.3 million registered pilgrims had arrived in Saudi Arabia for the Hajj, Mecca regional authorities said in X.

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