1,000 Nigerian women Haj pilgrims held in Saudi Arabia | world | Hindustan Times
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1,000 Nigerian women Haj pilgrims held in Saudi Arabia

world Updated: Sep 27, 2012 14:24 IST

Nigeria has registered a protest with Saudi Arabia over detention of about 1,000 Nigerian women at Saudi airports who wanted to undertake the Haj pilgrimage to Mecca.

Hundreds of these women have been held since Sunday at the airports in Jeddah and Medina, BBC reported.

Nigeria's ambassador to Saudi Arabia Abubakar Shehu Bunu said the authorities were stopping women under the age of 35 despite a previous understanding over it. Nigerian women are exempt from travelling with a male relative -- a requirement for women on the Haj.

Nigerian diplomats say the agreement between National Hajj Commission of Nigeria and the Saudi authorities allows visas to be issued for Nigerian women going to Mecca as long as they are accompanied by their local Haj committee officials.

The Nigerian envoy said he made a formal protest to the foreign affairs office in Riyadh Wednesday.

"They are stopping women particularly between the ages of 25 and 35 without a male relative. Those over 45 are not a concern to the Saudi authorities," he said.

An estimated over two million Muslims are due to converge on Mecca for this year's Haj, set to culminate over a four-day period somewhere between Oct 24 and 29, depending on lunar observations.