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Coronavirus: Saudi Arabia arrests 936 violators of Holy sites entry rules during Hajj

Saudi Arabia’s authorities arrested 936 people who tried to enter Holy sites during Hajj without prior authorization, the General Directorate of Public Security said on Thursday.

The official spokesman for the Hajj Security Forces Command said the authorities took the necessary actions against them, including imposing the previously announced fines.

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Pilgrims began the first day of Hajj rituals on Wednesday amid heightened security and strict coronavirus health precautions.

The Kingdom had announced in June that it will only allow a “limited” number of people (10,000) to perform Hajj this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and that those individuals will be of different nationalities but already residing in the Kingdom.

Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam and a must for able-bodied Muslims at least once in their lifetime. Approximately, 2.5 million pilgrims typically visit the holiest sites of Islam in Mecca and Medina for the week-long Hajj.

Fines for violators

The Kingdom had announced earlier in the month several penalties for violating the restrictions on this year’s limited Hajj, including a 10,000 Saudi riyal fine ($2,666) for people who enter the Holy sites in Mecca without a permit during Hajj. Repeat offenders would be fined twice the amount.

As for those who illegally transport pilgrims who have not been approved to perform Hajj this year, the security officials highlighted that there are several tiers to their penalties.

For the first offence, he will be jailed 15 days and fined up to 10,000 riyals ($2,667) for each unauthorized pilgrim he transported. If he is an expat, he will be deported after finishing his sentence and banned from re-entering the Kingdom. His vehicle will also be seized.

If the violator repeats the offence for a second time, he will be jailed for two months and fined no more than 25,000 riyals ($6,666) for each unauthorized pilgrim he transported. If he is an expat, he will be deported after finishing his sentence and banned from re-entering the Kingdom.

If the violator repeats the offence for the third time, he will be jailed for a period no longer than six months and fined no more than 50,000 riyals ($13,331) for each unauthorized pilgrim he transported. If he is an expat, he will be deported after finishing his sentence and banned from re-entering the Kingdom.

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