Saudi Arabia returns more than 320,000 unregistered pilgrims

Saudi Arabia returns more than 320,000 unregistered pilgrims

Riyadh is taking steps to avoid tragedy during the Hajj season. Saudi Arabia announced on Saturday that its security forces had deported more than 320,000 unregistered pilgrims from Mecca, a week before the start of the annual Hajj season in the holy city.

Managing crowds at such a large gathering has proven risky in the past, particularly in 2015, when a stampede killed about 2,300 people. Last year, more than 1.8 million Muslims participated in Hajj rituals, according to official figures.

Quotas have been set

The official Saudi News Agency (SPA) said that among those who were returned in the last days from Mecca were 153,998 foreigners who obtained tourist visas instead of the permits that the Kingdom granted to various countries on the basis of quotas. The Saudi authorities also intercepted 171,587 residents of the Kingdom who did not have Hajj permits.

Since last Saturday, more than 1.3 million registered pilgrims have arrived in Saudi Arabia to perform the Hajj, according to authorities. The Hajj, which begins on June 14, is one of the five pillars of Islam and must be performed at least once by all Muslims who can afford it.

Hajj trips of political importance to Riyadh

Saudi Arabia is home to Islam's holiest sites in Mecca and Medina, and the Gulf kingdom earns billions of dollars each year from the Hajj and Hajj, known as Umrah, at other times of the year. The Hajj also gives prestige to the Saudi monarch, whose official title includes the title of “Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques” in Mecca and Medina.

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