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Jakarta Post

Saudi authorities nab 116 Indonesians for illegal haj travel

  • Agnes Anya

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Wed, August 1, 2018   /   01:45 pm
Saudi authorities nab 116 Indonesians for illegal haj travel Muslim pilgrims crowd the Kaaba and surround the Maqam Ibrahim (top right), or the Station of Abraham, at the Grand Mosque in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, in this Sept. 7, 2016 file photo. (AP Photo/Nariman El-Mofty)

Saudi Arabian security authorities have arrested 116 Indonesians during a raid on a shelter in Misfalah, Mecca, for allegedly using illegal means to go on the haj.

"These people were raided last Friday. Most of them were found to have work visas," the Indonesian Consulate General in Tarhil stated in a press release on Wednesday. Others had entered Saudi Arabia with a pilgrimage visa for umrah (minor haj).

The umrah pilgrims, most of who had arrived from Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara, paid between Rp 50 million (US$3,461)  and Rp 60 million to a travel agent in Indonesia for a haj trip. However, when they reached Mecca, they were asked to pay 500 riyal (US$133) to retrieve their passports from a local guide.

"As they had arrived in Mecca, they were free to go wherever they wanted. They no longer had any business with the travel agent," said Talabul Amal, an official at the Tarhil consulate general, adding that the group did not recall the travel agent's name.

Talab added that among the 116 Indonesians who were arrested were those who had entered Saudi Arabia legally. The Saudi authorities, however, had arrested them along with those who had entered the country illegally, simply because they lived in the same building.

Indonesian consul general to Jeddah Mohamad Hery Saripudin said this was not the first time Indonesians were caught using illegal means to go on the haj.

Saripudin called on all Indonesians to always comply with Saudi Arabia's travel regulations.