Monday, September 07, 2015

Moroccans Leave on Hajj Pilgrimage

It is the season of the Hajj - the pilgrimage to Mecca and this year over 14 thousand pilgrims will leave Morocco and travel to Mecca for the annual Hajj, one of the five pillars of Islam

Royal Air Maroc, the Moroccan national airline, is operating 50 flights to Jeddah and Medina on Tuesday. The transport phase will end on September 17th and the return flights have been scheduled from September 27th to October 16th.

The flights will depart from eight airports: Casablanca, Rabat, Fez, Tangiers, Oujda, Nador, Agadir and Marrakech, with special transport dedicated to those travelling from the south of the country, the region of Laâyounne and Errachidia.

Aid al-Adha, the feast of sacrifice, will also be celebrated in Morocco, on September 24, while in Egypt and the Arab Emirates it will fall on September 23, according to the lunar calendar.

Flights departing from Morocco to the Holy Places, from the early hours of Tuesday, September 8, will go directly to Mecca, said the Ministry of Endowments and Islamic Affairs.

The first flight to Mecca is scheduled early Tuesday, September 8 at 1:10am departing from Casablanca airport.

However, not all is going smoothly. More than 78 Hajjis (pilgrims) from different cities and towns of the province of Errachidia were stranded on Sunday morning for more than seven hours at the Airport of Errachidia due to a flight delay caused by Royal Air Maroc (RAM).

After seven hours waiting at Moulay Ali Cherif Airport in Errachidia, where they slept outside on the grass, the Hajjis got stuck again, this time at Mohammed V International Airport. The plane that was supposed to fly them out of Casablanca took off at 7 a.m. with their luggage, but without them.

Even though the airline offered to take them to a hotel to rest until the time of their flights, the authorities did not allow them to leave the airport claiming “their visas have already been stamped in Moulay Ali Cherif Airport in Errachidia.” Passengers complained that RAM made the accommodation offer knowing it was impossible.

Royal Air Maroc (RAM) previously said they will operate 100 flights to accommodate Haj pilgrims from eight Moroccan cities – Casablanca, Rabat, Fez, Tangier, Oujda, Nador, Agadir and Marrakech.

the annual pilgrimage will see more than 2 million Muslims travelling to Mecca

Just one month before the beginning of the hajj,  an outbreak of Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) in Saudi Arabia’s capital of Riyadh has sparked fears that the country could become the epicentre for a global health crisis. In the span of a week, Riyadh has seen more than 40 cases of the disease, 15 of them affecting health workers. Three people have died, and the outbreak has forced the closure of the emergency ward at King Abdulaziz Medical City, one of the country’s largest medical facilities.

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