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Saudi Arabia deports thousands of Turkish pilgrims above quota after complaints by Diyanet

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Saudi officials have deported thousands of Turks who traveled to Saudi Arabia to perform the Hajj pilgrimage this year due to complaints by Turkish authorities that they are above the quota of Turkish pilgrims allowed, the Sözcü daily reported on Friday.

The Hajj pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia is a religious obligation for Muslims who must take the journey at least once in their lifetime, provided they are financially and physically able to. This sacred ritual is considered the fifth pillar of the Islamic faith, serving as a symbol of unity and devotion among Muslims as they come together to express their obedience to Allah.

Due to the overwhelming number of pilgrims visiting every year, Saudi Arabia imposes quotas for every country. In January Turkish and Saudi officials signed a new protocol for the annual Muslim pilgrimage Hajj for 2024. Under the current protocol, Saudi Arabia allows 83,430 pilgrims from Turkey in this year’s Hajj.

According to Sözcü, thousands of Turks who traveled to Saudi Arabia on tourist, work or business visas with the aim of performing Hajj were reported to the Saudi authorities by Turkey’s Religious Affairs Directorate (Diyanet) for being above the allowed quota.

Saudi authorities then located some of those Turks and deported them after fining them 10,000 Saudi riyals ($2,665).

Sözcü said that the number of those who are complaining about the situation is between 20,000 and 25,000.

Opposition lawmakers condemned the Diyanet’s stance on the issue, with Democracy and Progress Party (DEVA) Vice Chair Mehmet Emin Ekmen calling on Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan and Ali Erbaş, president of the Diyanet, to “end this shameful situation.”

Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu, a lawmaker from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Equality and Democracy Party (DEM Party) who is currently in Saudi Arabia to perform the Hajj, released a video message on X saying the Diyanet must find a solution to the problem of tens of thousands of Turks in Mecca who may not be allowed to perform the Hajj.

“If there was any irregularity, the Diyanet should have prevented it earlier. This should not prevent our citizens who have already come here from performing the Hajj,” Gergerlioğlu said.

 

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