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Hundreds of Indonesian hajj pilgrims denied entry to Saudi Arabia for visa violation

Jakarta Globe - June 15, 2024

Hendro Dahlan Situmorang, Jakarta – Hundreds of prospective Hajj pilgrims from Sidrap Regency, South Sulawesi faced a disappointing setback as they were denied entry to Saudi Arabia recently.

Upon arrival at King Abdul Aziz Airport, they were detained by local authorities for reportedly attempting to enter the country using visit visas instead of the required Hajj visas issued by their travel agents.

The 203 pilgrims from Sidrap, eager to fulfill their religious duties in Mecca, were thus unable to proceed with their journey and are now likely to miss participating the Hajj ritual.

According to reports from Selayarnews.com, a member of the B-Universe network, a family member of one of the pilgrims expressed their situation, stating, "They used visitor visas instead of Hajj visas, so when they tried to enter the Holy Land (Mecca), they were immediately detained by local police."

The Indonesian Religious Affairs Ministry has strictly prohibited its citizens from embarking on the Hajj pilgrimage without the proper Hajj visas.

Suviyanto, an official overseeing Umrah and Hajj at the Directorate General of Hajj and Umrah (PHU), emphasized the importance of adhering to Saudi Arabia's regulations, which mandate Hajj visas for pilgrims worldwide. He clarified that other types of visas, such as visitor visas, are not valid for performing Hajj, underscoring Saudi Arabia's security measures to ensure the safety and comfort of all pilgrims.

He warned prospective pilgrims to exercise caution in selecting certified Special Pilgrimage Organizers (PIHK) authorized by the Ministry, as violations could lead to severe penalties including fines, deportation, and bans from returning to Saudi Arabia for up to 10 years.

In a separate incident last week, an Indonesian influencer was reportedly detained in Saudi Arabia for allegedly selling illegal Hajj packages that used visit visas instead of proper Hajj visas. Saudi authorities are actively investigating this case along with other instances involving social media accounts promoting unauthorized Hajj packages.

Muslim pilgrims continue to arrive in Mecca in large numbers for this week's Hajj pilgrimage, which is returning to its full scale after recent pandemic-related restrictions.

This year's turnout is anticipated to surpass the levels seen in 2023, approaching pre-pandemic figures exceeding 1.8 million pilgrims. The Hajj, considered one of Islam's Five Pillars, remains a significant spiritual journey for Muslims capable of undertaking it, offering a profound opportunity for reflection, forgiveness, and spiritual renewal.

Source: https://jakartaglobe.id/news/hundreds-of-indonesian-hajj-pilgrims-denied-entry-to-saudi-arabia-for-visa-violatio