CAIRO: Around 500 Egyptian pilgrims were relocated by the Saudi Ministry of Pilgrimage after they protested against the poor living conditions they were subjected to during their trip.
Egyptian pilgrims from the governorates of Minya, Fayoum, Beheira, Beni Suef and Giza demonstrated outside the headquarters of the Egyptian Hajj delegation in Mina, claiming they were left without a place to stay in the holy cities of Mecca and Medina.
Mina is a desert town located 5 km outside Mecca, where pilgrims go to cast pebbles at three walls in a symbolic rejection of Satan’s temptation.
Around 500 pilgrims gathered and shouted slogans against the government “which they say refuses to address the issue, according to press reports.
The protestors, whose trip is sponsored by the state, said that Saudi authorities violated the contracts and placed them in extremely crowded tents that were not big enough and were given expired food and beverages.
However, head of the Egyptian pilgrimage delegation this year, Minister of Social Solidarity Ali Moselhy, immediately took action. Officials from the Saudi Ministry of Pilgrimage went on an inspection visit to the tents.
The meals were replaced and the pilgrims relocated within four hours, according to state-owned Al-Ahram newspaper.
Moselhy said that the problem with the tents was caused by the torrential rains in the beginning of the pilgrimage which has claimed more than 100 lives.
Moselhy said that this year has seen one of the most successful pilgrimage delegations, in a statement to the official news portal, Egynews.net.
Twenty deaths have been reported so far among Egyptian pilgrims, which were all due to natural complications. No cases of swine flu were reported among Egyptians.
The first flights arriving from Saudi Arabia carrying Egyptian pilgrims landed on Sunday night.