Muslim pilgrims to Hajj complain of bad travel arrangements, accommodations
COTABATO City, Philippines—Muslim pilgrims who recently returned home from performing the annual Hajj in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, have complained of “poor” accommodations and travel arrangements.
Ustadz Mike Ibrahim, chairman of the National Ulama Council of the Philippines and one of the 60 pilgrims from the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, said they had difficulty in acquiring their visas before they left for Saudi Arabia.
“I have been performing Hajj in the last 10 years and this one was the worst I have encountered,” he said.
He said the hotel where the Filipino pilgrims were billeted was “very far” from the pilgrimage site.
“It took us four hours of travel by bus to the pilgrimage site from our hotel,” Ibrahim said, adding that the long and tedious journey cost the lives of three elderly from Maguindanao, Basilan and Sulu.
He said the Filipino delegates, because of travel delays, did not have enough time to roam around unlike other pilgrims from other countries who arrived Saudi Arabia way ahead.
“I cannot understand why the delay in the release of visas, the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) has a lot of explaining to do to avoid similar incidents in future pilgrimages, kawawa naman ang mga pilgrims (the pilgrims were in a pitiful state),” he said.
Nevertheless, Ibrahim was still thankful they still managed to perform the Hajj.
But Ibrahim suggested an investigation so those responsible for the “difficulties” the pilgrims had experienced would be held accountable.
Officials of the NCMF could not be reached for comment.