Nigeria Protests Saudi Arabia’s Detention of Female Pilgrims

Nigeria has protested to Saudi Arabia’s authorities over the detention of more than 1,000 female pilgrims who arrived in the kingdom for the annual Hajj pilgrimage without male guardians, state-run Radio Nigeria said.

Radio Nigeria said the country has suspended the airlifting of pilgrims until the matter is resolved. Hatem Qadi, a spokesman for the Saudi Hajj Ministry, said the rules stipulate that women below 45 must be accompanied by a male guardian, and that the condition has been applied for years and is spelled out on hajj visas.

Saudi Arabia has repatriated more than 1,000 of the pilgrims, including 508 Nigerian women as well as one man who arrived back in the country yesterday, the News Agency of Nigeria said.

Saudi Arabia enforces restrictions that are interpreted from the Wahhabi version of Sunni Islam. Women can’t travel or get an education without male approval or mix with unrelated men in public places.

To contact the reporter on this story: Donna Abu Nasr in Beirut at at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew J. Barden at

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