Saudi authorities said on Sunday they have busted more than 10 fake hajj campaigns in recent days, which claim to provide pilgrims with the services needed to complete their hajj journey.
Abdelaziz al-Khudairi, undersecretary of Makkah's governor's office and head of executive committee of hajj operations, told Al Arabiya that these fake campaigns will be announced soon to the public, adding that those behind them will be severely punished according to the Saudi king’s order.
Khudairi also said that these campaigns were discovered within the Saudi kingdom.
According to the Saudi official, fake hajj campaigns are one of the major problems that prevent officials from providing better services for pilgrims.
He also said that pilgrims coming from outside the kingdom are very-well organized, adding that no fake hajj campaigns were discovered outside Saudi Arabia.
Khudairi noted that other problems occurring during the hajj season like transportation and overcrowding problems are a result of unorganized pilgrims who are not part of a hajj campaign group, adding that as a result, these pilgrims face difficulties going from one holy site to another.
Last month, Jeddah police uncovered three bogus Haj campaigns run by five Arab and Asian expats, in addition to a number of Saudis, according to Arab News.
Meanwhile, Saudi Civil Defense authorities have warned hajj service providers that they will face stringent penal action in case of any violations in safety regulations during the pilgrimage season.
More than 70 security patrol teams will be deployed to catch those who enter Makkah and the holy sites without a hajj permit.
The hajj Security Command officials told a press conference in Mina on Saturday that these illegal pilgrims will be handed over to the concerned agencies so as to take penal action against them.
The authorities earlier disclosed that those who are caught performing hajj without permit would be deported immediately and banned from entering the Kingdom for 10 years. Similarly, owners of vehicles used to smuggle illegal pilgrims to the holy sites would be detained and fined, and their vehicles will be impounded.
(With the Saudi Gazette)
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