Nineveh, Iraq, 1 Dzulhijjah 1436/15 September 2015 (MINA) – The Iraqi government has reportedly stopped 422 Muslims from the northern city of Mosul from setting out for Saudi Arabia to perform the annual Hajj pilgrimage due to “security concerns”, an Iraqi official said Monday.
“The pilgrims have returned to Mosul after having spent about 20 days awaiting permission to travel to the holy land [in Saudi Arabia],” Hassan al-Allaf, vice governor of the northern Nineveh Province, of which Mosul is the regional capital, told Anadolu Agency by phone quoted by Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA).
According to Al-Allaf, only 585 people from the province – all of them males above 60 and women over 45 – have been allowed by the government to take part in this year’s pilgrimage.
“The government has let us down,” Abdullah Ahmed, a Mosul-based tour agent who organizes Hajj trips told Anadolu Agency by phone. “Since Aug. 26, we have been awaiting official permission to leave.”
He added: “We have spent most of the time outdoors, as we weren’t allowed to enter Baghdad or set out for the Hajj due to what we were told were ‘security reasons’.”
Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, fell to the Daesh militant group in the summer of last year. It currently serves as the group’s de facto capital in Iraq. (T/P001/R03)
Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA)