Association of British Hujjaj (Pilgrims) UK ABH, a national charity working for the welfare and wellbeing of British Hajj/ Umrah pilgrims welcomes the Bolton Crown Court judgement to sentence Mudassir Shaheen, a Hajj/ Umrah travel operator, for 30 months in jail. He was found guilty of multiple counts of fraud by charging the families £ 36,000 for non-existing travel packages.
Corruption and malpractice amongst Hajj/ Umrah service providers is a widespread phenomenon. In the Hajj Task Force Project report issued last year by Lord Toby Harris, Chairman National Trading Standards Board, it was revealed that out of 182 business premises which were inspected nationally, 147 Hajj/ Umrah package tour operators were found to be non- compliant. This report has shocked a large number of people in the community. However, ABH was fully aware of the worsening situation of the violation of the UK legislation by the rogue and unscrupulous tour and travel operators and have been campaigning tirelessly for over two decades to persuade the authorities to address this issue.
Hajj/ Umrah pilgrimage is very close to the heart of nearly 3 million people in the UK and travelling to perform pilgrimage holds extremely high significance and it is considered as a journey of a lifetime for pilgrims. Corruption and malpractice by travel operators cause extreme devastation, mental anguish and trauma not only to the pilgrims but due to the extended and close family network, a large number of other family member and friends also suffer from shock and distress.
Association of British Hujjaj (Pilgrims) UK strongly urges the relevant law enforcement authorities that they must adopt a zero tolerance policy. Ensuring rule of law is vital to eliminate malpractices, fraudulent activities and corruption in this civilised and democratic society and it will help and protect vulnerable Hajj/ Umrah travellers including elderly, sick and disabled.