which shows that Hajj related fraud in the UK rocketed by almost 150 per cent last year.
Another report, issued by the Chairman of National Trading Standard Board, Lord Toby Harris, showed that in the recent past 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 revelation also sent a shockwave throughout the Muslim community in Britain.
The Hajj/Umrah pilgrimage is very close to the heart of nearly 3 million British Muslims in the UK and travelling to perform pilgrimage holds extremely high significance. It is considered a journey of a lifetime for Muslims. Corruption and malpractice by service providers cause extreme mental anguish and trauma to the pilgrims and their loved ones.
The rogue and unscrupulous service providers have no hesitation in preying on vulnerable pilgrims causing them immense hardship. They take undue advantage of these pilgrims by charging extortionate prices for their substandard services and in some cases service providers disappear after taking a large sum of money from the pilgrims and leaving them stranded. Every year a substantial number of pilgrims are disappointed and distressed by the substandard services and degrading behaviour of their service providers. Hajj travel packages are also a complete rip-off compared to similar travel packages to other travel destinations around the world. Hajj pilgrims are angry and frustrated about the persisting price hike and obscene amount they are being charged by Hajj service providers.
The British parliamentarian, and the patron of Association of British Hujjaj (Pilgrims) UK, Lord Ahmed of Rotherham, called upon authorities urging them to adopt a zero tolerance policy and carry out anti-corruption crackdowns against such criminals to eliminate malpractices and fraudulent activities. These corrupt service providers should not be allowed to get away and should be held accountable in a court of law.
ABH strongly urges law enforcement authorities make every effort to implement the rule of law. Any violation of the legislation must not be tolerated in order to allow British Hajj pilgrims to perform their religious duties without undue financial stress, hardship, or difficulty. The denial of basic human rights and dignity of the pilgrims is highly deplorable and must not be allowed to continue.