Turned back from the border with Saudi Arabia last Wednesday for not having visas to enter Iraq, 2,000 Turkish citizens headed to Mecca to perform the religious hajj pilgrimage, were forced to spend two days in the Iraqi northern town of Zaho. The majority of the pilgrims that were held up in Iraq proceeded to obtain the necessary visas and had set out for Saudi Arabia once again. However the pilgrims were stopped en route once again by soldiers from the central administration nearby Mosul. After being forced to wait for five hours, the Turkish pilgrims were finally allowed to pass and resume their trip.
The convoy consisting of 200 buses which had taken off from Zaho was stopped for a second time, this time in a location nearby the Kasiyat village in Mosul. Soldiers for the central Baghdad administration, stopped the convoy and prohibited them from passing
Forced to wait in the vicinity of the Kasiyat village, located 60 kilometers from Zaho, the Turkish nationals spent hours unsure of whether they would be allowed to enter Saudi Arabia in order to perform their intended pilgrimage. A few of the Turkish nationals on board decided to return to Turkey after the ordeal, which resulted in 38 hours of driving, never mind having to wait for days to receive clearance. In addition to performing their religious pilgrimage at the Hajj, the Turkish nationals on board will also be working as butchers to slaughter animals for other pilgrims during Eid al-Adha.