Company scams 68 umrah pilgrims by giving them a tour of southeastern Turkey instead
A Turkish company has scammed 68 people set to perform a religious pilgrimage to Mecca by instead giving them a tour of the southeastern provinces of Gaziantep and Kahramanmaraş, state-run Anadolu Agency reported on April 13.
The 68 people got on two buses in Kahramanmaraş’s most populous district of Elbistan with the promise they would go to Saudi Arabia to perform Umrah.
Umrah is an Islamic pilgrimage that can be undertaken at any time of the year, in contrast to the hajj, which has specific dates according to the Islamic lunar calendar.
But after the customers noticed the company officials had cheated them by giving them a tour of Gaziantep and Şanlıurfa instead, they notified the situation to the Elbistan district police department. Police then stopped the tour buses.
The passengers on the buses claimed that they each paid $690 for their tour and filed a complaint against the tour officials.
A passenger, Durdu Mehmet Kılıç, said the firm got them on the bus, telling them they would get off at the Central Anatolian province of Kayseri, where they would catch a plane to Mecca.
“But after getting on the bus, they told us that they would give us a tour of the Pool of Abraham in Şanlıurfa [known as ‘Balıklı Göl’ in Turkish]. In the evening, they told us they would not take us to Mecca, but instead bring us back to Elbistan,” Kılıç said.
“We set on the journey to go to the holy lands, to Mecca and Madinah, but they gave us a tour of Şanlıurfa instead and then brought us back,” said another passenger, Yüksel Kılıç.
The police took the bus drivers to a police station to testify.