Hajj pilgrims urged to shop corrupt tour operators

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Lord Hunt speaks to pilgrims at Birmingham event

A GOVERNMENT Minister has urged British Muslims returning from the Hajj pilgrim to help root out deceitful tour operators.

Deputy Leader of the House, Lord Phil Hunt OBE, spoke at an event in Birmingham organised by The Association of British Hujjaj UK.

A number of returnee Hajj pilgrims who were invited to the event were told information they provided against corrupt tour and travel operators was vital in helping combat the problem facing thousands of British Muslims each year.

“I find it outrageous that on what should be a profoundly significant event in anyone’s life, going on pilgrimage should be undermined by a small minority of unscrupulous tour operators,” Lord Hunt said.

He added any complaints against tour operators should be made to Trading Standards for further investigation.

Other speakers at the event included Maqsood Ahmed, Home Office Advisor and Inspector Maskeen Ali from West Midlands Police.

Lord Hunt’s comments come as the Government increase their efforts to protect the rights of British Muslim pilgrims.

Last year Consumer Minister Gareth Thomas wrote to every MP encouraging them to raise awareness of this issue in their constituencies and met tour operators and pilgrims’ groups in July to discuss improving the situation for those travelling to Mecca.

Trading Standards have also reported a rise in the number of complaints against tour operators, and their investigations have led to successful prosecutions.

In April 2007 Leicester City Council’s trading standards team were successful in their action against Mohammed Salim Ismael who admitted ten counts of breaking travel regulations and was fined £20,000.

Last month Luton-based Go4 Hajj & Umrah Tours Limited was wound up in the High Court following an investigation by the Companies Investigation Branch. They found the tour company “seriously misled” its customers.

Khalid Pervez, from the Association of British Hujjaj UK has been instrumental in the campaign to get better protection for Hajj pilgrims.

Speaking at the event he assured British Muslims the organisation would “continue to carry on the work it has been doing for this noble and humanitarian cause with the same passion and determination to ensure the welfare and wellbeing of Hajj and Umrah pilgrims.”

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