Mecca (ANTARA) - The government will impose severe sanctions against travel agents found facilitating Hajj pilgrimages for individuals without proper visa documentation, Religious Affairs Minister Yaqut Cholil Qoumas emphasized.

"The Indonesian government has issued warnings, but we have discovered some parties disregarding them," he remarked shortly after arriving in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, on Monday.

He said that he has instructed his subordinates to take firm action against travel agents found to be violating regulations.

Qoumas expressed disappointment upon learning of Indonesian nationals attempting the Hajj pilgrimage with non-Hajj visas. These individuals were denied entry to Mecca, and some even faced deportation.

He highlighted that Saudi Arabia's Minister of Hajj and Umrah, Taufiq F. Al Rabiah, had reiterated that the Saudi government would not hesitate to bar individuals lacking proper documentation from participating in the Hajj pilgrimage this year.

"We have prepared severe sanctions for travel agents who ignore our warnings and facilitate pilgrimages using ineligible visas," Qoumas stressed.

He further stated that his ministry is currently engaged in discussions to establish stricter penalties than simply revoking permits for non-compliant travel agents.

He revealed plans to collaborate with immigration offices to ensure that non-Hajj visas are not issued during Hajj seasons.

"Ensuring the well-being of our pilgrims is our primary concern. We cannot allow more pilgrims to fall victim to this. It is upsetting to see pilgrims deported upon arrival, facing a 10-year ban on entering Saudi Arabia," he stated.

Qoumas acknowledged the government's responsibility to safeguard its citizens by persistently warning them against embarking on Hajj pilgrimages with non-Hajj visas.

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Translator: Asep F, Tegar Nurfitra
Editor: Anton Santoso
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