Mecca, Saudi Arabia (ANTARA) - Saudi Arabian authorities on Saturday (June 1) detained 37 Indonesian pilgrims from Makassar, South Sulawesi, for visa violations as they just had pilgrimage visa documents that are not eligible for performing Hajj.

"They are being grilled by Saudi police officers. In Saudi Arabia, the questioning process (for police investigation) is quick," Indonesian Consul General in Jeddah Yusron B.Ambarie said.

The detained pilgrims comprise 21 men and 16 women, he said, adding that the Saudi Arabian authorities accused them of intending to perform Hajj with Umrah visa documents during this year's Hajj season.

Speaking to journalists in the holy city of Mecca on Saturday, Ambarie said the pilgrims left Indonesia for Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, by boarding a flight requiring a transit at Doha, Qatar.

After reaching Riyadh, the capital and largest city of Saudi Arabia, they continued their journey to Medina.

They, however, failed to reach the city where the Prophet's Mosque is located after the Saudi police officers stopped them at a checkpoint, he said.

During the security check, the Saudi police officers found that they were just Umrah visa holders but wore fake Hajj ID bracelets and Hajj ID cards that valid Hajj pilgrims from Indonesia usually hold, he said.

"Several have even forged the Hajj visas," he said, adding that one of them, identified as SJ, functioned as a travel coordinator who entered Saudi Arabia by using a multiple entry visa for one year.

The Saudi police officers are still searching for another travel coordinator, identified as TL, down, he added.

Prior to the arrest of the 37 pilgrims from Makassar, the Saudi Arabian authorities had also captured 19 Indonesian pilgrims but they were released after the authorities found them innocent.

"The pilgrims said that they are going to meet their families in Jeddah. A team of personnel from the Indonesian Consulate General in Jeddah assisted them to get freed," he said.

The pilgrims, however, were warned by the Saudi authorities of not trying to perform Hajj as they were the holders of non-Hajj visa documents, he said.

On Tuesday, May 28, the Saudi Arabian authorities had also detained 22 Indonesian pilgrims along with two travel coordinators after they failed to show valid Hajj visa documents.

According to an Indonesian Hajj Management Committee (PPIH) official for the Bir Ali area, they were detained after they took miqat at Dhu'l-Hulayfah Mosque, which is located about nine kilometers from Medina or about 450 kilometers from Mecca.

The Dhu'l-Hulayfah Mosque, which is also known by Indonesian Hajj pilgrims as Bir Ali Mosque, is the miqat for the city of Medina's residents and those approaching the holy city of Mecca from Medina's direction.

Miqat means a place outside Mecca that Muslim pilgrims are prohibited to cross before they are in the sacred state or ihram if they are willing to perform Umrah or Hajj at Masjidil Haram Grand Mosque.

The 22 Indonesian pilgrims that the Saudi Arabian authorities detained for visa violation on May 28 were deported on Saturday evening (June 1).

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Translator: Asep F, Rahmad Nasution
Editor: Tia Mutiasari
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