ISLAMABAD: Begging in the holy city of Makkah has become a phenomenon, especially during the fasting month of Ramazan and the Hajj season when a large numbers of pilgrims and visitors come to the Kingdom, according to local residents.
According to official statistics, the majority of the beggars are expatriates, particularly from the African continent and Yemen,The Daily Saudi Gazette reported.
The beggars may use an existing disability or fake a new one to obtain sympathy. Many beggars usually squat on the roads leading to the Grand
A number of citizens have expressed anger over the presence of beggars in the holy city and said they are harming the Kingdom’s reputation.
Assim Khalil, a Saudi resident, questioned how long begging would continue during Ramazan and Haj. He said beggars are exploiting the goodwill of pilgrims to make huge sums of money by faking disabilities.
Khalil accused certain countries, which he did not identify,of encouraging low-income citizens to fake disabilities before sending them to the Kingdom to beg during the fasting month and pilgrimage season.
Mohammed Al-Harbi commended the efforts of the Makkah municipality that succeeded in reducing the number of beggars in the central area around the Grand Mosque. He said as a result many of the beggars have changed course and are now carrying out their activities along the roads leading to the Grand Mosque and at the traffic lights.
Al-Harbi recalled that a beggar on a stretcher was asking people for money at the Al-Rusaifah parking lot. “But when the beggar saw a policeman approaching, he dropped his stretcher and ran like a sprinter,” he said.
Haitham Ahmed said begging has become a job for unemployed people. He said: “This is an easy and well paying job. “You can make easy money by becoming a beggar, especially if you fake a disability.”
Ahmed said some of the beggars would not hesitate to get abusive with those who did not give them money.
He recalled a Yemeni woman who was begging at a traffic light called him bad names when he refused to give her money.
He said his friends were also cursed by beggars for not giving them money.
Akram Hussain said beggars are now concentrating in the neighborhoods of Al-Hafair, Al-Shabakiyah and Al-Misyal.
He noted that a number of men and women from African countries would come to this area with their children to beg worshippers for money.
Hussain said an initial group of beggars give their place to others from their country when they make enough money.
According to officials at the Umrah and Haj companies, many pilgrims come to the Kingdom with the sole purpose of begging or stealing.
They said they would not hesitate to inform the security forces when they see any pilgrim extending hands to worshippers,asking for money.
Source : APP