In a recent article, Reuters reported that Nigeria has suspended flights to Saudi Arabia for the Hajj pilgrimage after more than 600 Nigerian women were deported for trying to enter Mecca without a male relative. According to Saudi officials, the women had visas stating that they had to have a male guardian accompany them on their pilgrimage and had violated this when the entered without a guardian. Reuters explains:

“The airlift operations have been temporary stopped … It does not make sense to airlift people to be detained on landing. We will resume when all outstanding issues are resolved,” Uba Mana, spokesman of National Hajj Commission, said by telephone.

Women in Saudi Arabia are regarded as minors and require the permission of their guardian – father, brother, or husband – to leave the country, receive some kinds of medical treatment or work. They are not allowed to drive and are usually expected to be accompanied by a male chaperone.

“The Nigerian pilgrims came with their visas stating that they have to have a male guardian accompanying them, either a brother, a husband, or another relative,” Saudi Haj Ministry spokesman Hatim Kadi said.

“Some came with their guardians and were allowed to enter. Those who came without their guardians were not. They violated the regulations which were clearly printed on their passports.”

In Nigeria, where there are 80 Million Muslims, many practice a less restrictive form of Islam in which women are more or less free to move around as they like.

Read the full article here.