Moroccans Unhappy With 'Official' Hajj

Moroccan authorities have come under increasing fire over skyrocketing prices and inappropriate housing in the holy city of Makkah for this year's state-organized hajj.

Moroccans Unhappy With 'Official' Hajj

"The Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs imposes high fees – the highest of its kind – on Moroccan pilgrims traveling by planes," said MP Basima Hakkawi of the Justice and Development Party (PJD).

Each pilgrim pays nearly 10,000 dirhams (over $1,000) to get a plane ticket for Saudi Arabia to perform hajj.

The PJD has called for allowing private airlines to fly pilgrims to Saudi Arabia to help lower ticket prices, a proposal the ministry dismissed as an "adventure."

"The Awqaf Ministry and Royal Air Maroc want to keep the current ticket prices because it yields huge revenues for the airlines," one travel agent told requesting anonymity.

Some 32,000 Moroccans will perform hajj, one of the five pillars of Islam, this year. The first batch has already left for Saudi Arabia on December 4.

More than five millions of Morocco's 20 million population live under the line of poverty.

Every able-bodied adult Muslim -- who can financially afford the trip -- must perform hajj once in their lifetime.


Many Moroccans have also criticized the authorities for renting remote housing apartments for the pilgrims in the holy city of Makkah.

"Hundreds of pilgrims will be housed in Al-Azeziya neighborhood which is nearly 8 kilometers away from the Grand Mosque," Mohamed Abu Seif, a writer, told IOL.

Pilgrims say the remote distance would disrupt their performance of the hajj rituals.

But a ministry source defended the decision, saying not all pilgrims would be that far from the Grand Mosque.

He said the authorities have rented 25 housing apartments within 900 meters of the mosque.

He said those housed in Al-Azeziya neighborhood will have special buses available to them around the clock.

With the number of hajj applicants exceeding the quota offered to Morocco, the government resorted for the first time to conducting a ballot to determine who should take the spiritual journey.

"People resented this way to choose pilgrims," said Abu Seif.

"They feared some local officials would manipulate things for their own interests."

But the ministry defended the measures.

"The Ministry has found no other way in view of the high demand for hajj which exceeded the country's set quota," a ministry hajj official told IOL.

Saudi Arabia allows one percent of the population of each Muslim country to perform hajj every year, in accordance with the resolution of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC).

Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16