Saudi Arabia announces steep fines for hajj trespassers

Fines of 10,000 riyals will be issued to anyone entering the holy sites without a permit.

al-monitor A picture taken June 23, 2020, shows pilgrims' housing tents located between the holy sites of Arafat and Mina in Saudi Arabia's holy city of Mecca. Saudi Arabia has announced it will hold a "very limited" hajj this year, with pilgrims already in the kingdom allowed to perform the annual ritual as it moves to curb the biggest coronavirus outbreak in the Gulf. Photo by STR/AFP via Getty Images.

Jul 13, 2020

As Saudi Arabia grapples with how to host the hajj amid the coronavirus pandemic, the kingdom announced anyone entering the holy sites without a permit will be fined.

The Ministry of Interior said fines of 10,000 riyals ($2,666) will be issued to those who trespass onto the hajj sites of Mina, Muzdalifah and Arafat, Arab News reported Monday. Repeat offenders will be fined twice as much.

One of the five key pillars of Islam, hajj is required of all Muslims who are able to make the journey to the holy city of Mecca at least once in their lives. The yearly pilgrimage typically draws some 2 million people from around the world.

The Saudi government announced last week that only 1,000 people would be permitted to attend the weeklong ritual this year, which is expected to begin July 28.

Religious authorities are processing the requests of pilgrims from 160 countries, Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Hajj and Umrah said on Sunday. Approved worshippers will consist of 70% non-Saudi residents and 30% Saudi citizens. Pilgrims traveling from abroad will not be allowed to participate.

All who attend will be required to wear face masks, and social distancing will be enforced during mass prayers. Touching or kissing the sacred Kaaba in Mecca's Grand Mosque, Islam's holiest site, will be forbidden.

With 20 new deaths on Monday, the country registered its lowest daily fatality rate in two weeks. Health authorities reported a total of 235,111 cases and a death toll of 2,243. 

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