FACTBOX: Countries impose restrictions on Mecca pilgrimage

Mon Sep 28, 2009 6:40am EDT
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RIYADH (Reuters) - Several Muslim countries have imposed restrictions on pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia due to worries about a major outbreak of H1N1 flu.


The most populous Arab state has decided to restrict umra and haj pilgrims to those over 25 and under 65 years. Egypt also plans to inoculate pilgrims against the H1N1 virus.


Tunisia has canceled trips to perform umra this year and imposed tight restrictions on travel for the haj, especially on children and elderly pilgrims. Tunisia's Ministry for Religious Affairs has also advised people to postpone making haj this year, citing concerns about the spread of the flu virus.


The Iraqi government prevented Iraqis from going to umra directly from Iraq during Ramadan because of swine flu. The same restriction will not be in place for haj -- only for sick people, pregnant women and people above 65 years of age.

Some Iraqis have gone anyway, traveling through other countries, said Sheikh Mohammed Taqi al-Mowla of the haj and umra commission.

IRAN   Continued...