Mecca Mix-Up Leaves Pilgrims Marooned

Almost 100 Cambodian Muslims were stranded for a fourth consecutive night at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport on Sunday due to a booking error that prevented them from boarding flights to Jeddhah in Saudi Arabia, where they planned to join millions of devout pilgrims in the holy city of Mecca for the annual Hajj pilgrimage, Malaysian state media agency Bernama reported.

The report quoted a leader of the 98-strong group, Ariffin Ismail, as saying the Cambodian pilgrims were due to arrive in Jeddah on Sunday but had mistakenly booked onto a standard commercial flight.

He said the tickets were booked by agents in Phnom Penh who were in talks with Malaysia Airlines to solve the problem.

Vann Math, chief of the Cambodia Islamic Association, said Sunday that he was still trying to contact religious authorities in Saudi Arabia.

“I am not sure why they got stuck in Malaysia. Maybe it was a mistake with the flight booking, or because they had tourist visas,” he said, adding that the association had unsuccessfully applied for 200 Hajj visas from the Saudi Arabian Embassy in Hanoi.

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