Saudi Arabia stops 49,000 people without hajj permits

‘We will take strict action against all violators’ of hajj, says Saudi official

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Around 49,600 people without hajj permits have so far been stopped from entering the holy sites in Saudi Arabia, according to the latest statistics released by the Public Security Agency.

Also, 25,216 vehicles have not been given permission to enter the holy sites while 85 vehicles were impounded due to various traffic violations, the report said.

Taif Police superintendent Brig. Mohammad al-Walidi said Al-Buhaita Checkpoint has been equipped with state-of-the-art technology to register the names of violators and send their information to the authorities so that they are prosecuted.

The checkpoint is surrounded by security fence to prevent illegal entry to Makkah and the holy sites, he said.

“We're planning to set up electronic gates to facilitate the entry of pilgrims to the holy sites,” he said.

More than 26,000 expatriates who work in the kingdom have not been granted permission to pass through the checkpoint because they violated the hajj regulations and did not apply for hajj permits.

“We will take strict action against all violators,” said al-Walidi.

The Directorate of Passports' administrative committees has issued 67 verdicts against 52 citizens and 15 expatriate workers for violating hajj regulations.

The total fines imposed exceed SR3 million (almost $800,000). The committees ordered 21 vehicles to be impounded as a penalty for some of the violators, who are still in jail. The Interior Ministry said it would continue to impose fines on violators of hajj regulations.

The maximum fine a violator who transports pilgrims without hajj permits can incur is SR100,000 in addition to imprisonment for two years. His vehicle will be confiscated as well.
Meanwhile, the directorate announced that 1.36 million pilgrims have entered the kingdom as of Sept. 29. It urged all pilgrims to observe hajj regulations.

This story was first published on the Saudi Gazette on Tuesday, Sept. 30, 2014.

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