Moroccan Pilgrims in Hajj Complain of Lack of Food, Transport, Shelter

Rabat- Several Moroccan pilgrims complained about their struggles in Mecca due to non-existent management—leaving them hungry, without transport or shelter.While Morocco’s Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Mustapha Mansouri was saying that Moroccan pilgrims’ Hajj experience in 2018 was positive, a video was posted online offering a different picture. Moroccan pilgrims were recorded complaining about the bad conditions in Mecca.The video, which has swept Moroccan social media, shows a number of Moroccan men distressed because they were not able to perform Hajj rituals, such as the “stoning of the devil,” a major ritual. They were prevented because there were “no delegates or coordinators” to guide them. The ritual marks the end of the Hajj Pilgrimage in Mina, 5 kilometers to the east of Mecca, Saudi Arabia.Some elderly Moroccan men can be seen lying on the floor, their bodies weary from lack of nourishment. One man told the camera: “We send this message to the minister in charge of Hajj management, this is an insult to us. We paid for Hajj and we never got to eat a decent meal.”“People are dying of hunger here, some didn’t eat for three days,” the cameraman commented. The pilgrim claimed that people from other countries were able to travel smoothly from Mount Arafat to Muzdalifah (13 kilometers away), two parts of the Hajj pilgrimage, but Moroccans could not.Pilgrims traditionally arrive in Muzdalifah after sunset on the 9th day of the Islamic month Dhu al Hijjah, the second day of Hajj. Moroccans in the video said that they arrived at dawn on the 10th day due to delayed transport.One of the men said that the bus driver stopped midway and left passengers behind, adding that Moroccan pilgrims were wandering directionless in Mecca because they had no guides accompanying them.“They lied to us, they took our money, there is no transport, no managing delegation, no guides….nothing,” another one stated.Approximately 32,000 Moroccan pilgrims performed Hajj this year, according to Morocco’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia.A commenter in the video claimed that there were 2,000 Moroccan pilgrims experiencing the same problems.Ministry of Foreign Affairs denies allegationsIn a statement to the state owned press, Maghreb Arab Press (MAP), Morocco’s Ministry of Islamic Affairs stated that “some allegations reported by some media outlets” were “lies dating back to previous years,” claiming that information about pilgrims losing their way in Mecca was also false.The statement strassed that “the Moroccan delegation for this year are numbered at 105 to 112 delegates.” The ministry insisted that the conditions of stay in Hajj for Moroccans are positive.

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