RIYADH: A total of 59,200 Turkish pilgrims will arrive in the Kingdom for pilgrimage this year, said Turkish Ambassador Yunus Demirer, here Saturday.
The first group of 145 pilgrims arrived in the holy city of Makkah on Saturday.
“Turkish Airlines and Saudi Arabian Airlines will be mainly flying pilgrims from my country,” said Ambassador Demirer, who thanked the Saudi government for making elaborate arrangements for Haj this year. He appreciated the role of Saudi government agencies, which have fully geared themselves to ensure the safety and security of the pilgrims.
The first group of Turkish pilgrims were received by Tariq Angawi, chief of Haj affairs who has been entrusted with the task to address grievances of the pilgrims from Turkey, Europe, US and Australia. Turkish Consul General Fikret Ozer, who was there to receive the pilgrims from his country, also expressed admiration about the world-class arrangements made by the Saudi government for Haj.
Demirer said an official Turkish delegation comprising religious officials will also travel to the Kingdom. Ankara will also make an exception on the ban on leaving the country imposed on civil servants after the July 15 failed coup attempt, if the employees can demonstrate they will perform Haj in September.
The report said that “the personnel, who are not subjected to administrative or judicial inquiries, and those who were not suspended from duty will be allowed to join the pilgrimage, which is set to take place between Sept. 9 and Sept. 14.” Civil servants will need to provide evidence that they were granted the right to undertake the pilgrimage from Turkey, said the report published by the state-run Anadolu Agency.
The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government in Ankara suspended the annual leave of more than 3 million civil servants across the country, after the failed coup plot allegedly organized by the followers of US-based Fethullah Gulen brought civil servants under the spotlight. A few diplomats posted by Turkey in foreign missions have also not returned to the country so far.