LAGOS, Nigeria (AP) — An official says 509 Muslim female pilgrims are returning to Nigeria from Saudi Arabia after being stopped from proceeding with their pilgrimage.
Uba Mana, a spokesman for the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria, said Thursday that Saudi immigration officials at King Abdulaziz Airport in Jeddah refused the women entry, saying they were not travelling with a husband or male relative.
Mana said some did travel with their husbands and that a lone male passenger was on the returning flight after refusing to be separated from his wife.
He said Nigerian pilgrimage officials have typically stood in for a male relative or husband, but that the sudden rule change means hundreds more women are likely to return.
Saudi authorities could not immediately be reached for comment.
All able-bodied Muslims who can afford it are expected to perform the Hajj pilgrimage at least once.