The Association of British Hujjaj (Pilgrims) UK (ABH), a National Hajj specific charity working for the welfare and wellbeing of pilgrims, has expressed great concern that a culture of corruption and exploitation promoted by some rogue and unscrupulous service providers is tightening its grip within the Hajj/Umrah tour and travel industry. These service providers are indulging in all sorts of fraudulent activities and corruption, which is causing extreme hardship, trauma, financial exploitation, and mental anguish to the innocent and vulnerable pilgrims from around the world.
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, and take undue advantage of these pilgrims by charging extortionate prices for their services, which are often not delivered as promised. The denial of basic human rights and dignity of the pilgrims is highly deplorable and must not be allowed in this civilised world.
ABH strongly urges Saudi Hajj Minister, Governor of Makkah, and Governor of Madinah to adopt a zero tolerance policy to eliminate corruption and malpractice amongst Hajj/Umrah service providers. It is extremely vital that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia should set up a commission to review the present policies regulating the Hajj/Umrah service providers.
This issue of exploitation and corruption culture is affecting millions of Muslims around the world. ABH has also sent a letter to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and Muslim World League (MWL) urging them to look into this issue seriously, and join forces with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and relevant governments from around the world. An international code of conduct should be produced and strictly implemented in order to eliminate corruption and malpractice amongst the service providers and to allow the pilgrims to perform their religious obligations without undue financial stress, hardship or difficulty.