The Association of British Hujjaj (Pilgrims) UK (ABH) a Hajj specific organisation working for the welfare and wellbeing of Hajj/Umrah pilgrims welcomes the Hajj Fraud Prevention campaign launched by Birmingham City Council’s Trading Standards and in partnership with City of London Police and Civil Aviation Authority. It is timely and much needed initiative taken by the law enforcement authorities to address the issue of Hajj/ Umrah frauds.
According to the report issued by the Chairman of National Trading Standard Board UK, Lord Toby Harris, last year 182 Hajj/ Umrah business premises were inspected by Trading Standard and police officials nationally, out of which 147 of Hajj/ Umrah package tour operators were found to be non-compliant. This report shocked a large number of people in the community. ABH UK was fully aware of the worsening situation of the violation of the UK legislation and has been campaigning tirelessly for the last two decades to persuade the concern authorities to address this issue.
ABH strongly condemns that a culture of corruption and malpractice promoted by some rogue and unscrupulous service providers is tightening its grip within the Hajj/Umrah tour and travel industry. This has now become a global phenomenon. It’s time to adopt a zero tolerance policy by the authorities against these rogue service providers and their corruptions must be strongly dealt with.
The most alarming aspect of this growing culture of exploitation and corruption is that it has plagued the Hajj/Umrah tour and travel industry to the extent that it is becoming a way of life. Values and norms have changed. The rogue and unscrupulous service providers have no hesitation to prey on vulnerable pilgrims including sick, elderly and disabled causing them immense hardship, mental anguish, trauma and difficulty.
They take undue advantage of these pilgrims by charging extortionate prices for their services and in some cases service providers disappear after taking a large sum of money from the pilgrims and leaving them stranded. It is also a total rip-off compared to similar travel packages to other travel destinations around the world, taking into consideration that many pilgrims are likely to have spent their life-savings to fulfil their religious obligations.
The malpractice and exploitation by Hajj/ Umrah service providers affecting millions of Muslims worldwide. Association of British Hujjaj (Pilgrims) UK has once again called upon the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and other relevant governments from around the world to adopt zero-tolerance policy to eliminate the corruptions and malpractice amongst Hajj/Umrah service providers. Every effort should be made to protect the vulnerable Hajj/ Umrah pilgrims in order to enable them to perform the Hajj/ Umrah in peace and comfort.