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Nigerian pilgrims return after Saudi detention

Thursday - 9/27/2012, 1:47pm  ET

LAGOS, Nigeria (AP) - An official says 509 Muslim female pilgrims are returning to Nigeria from Saudi Arabia after being stopped from proceeding with their pilgrimage.

Uba Mana, a spokesman for the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria, said Thursday that Saudi immigration officials at King Abdulaziz Airport in Jeddah refused the women entry, saying they were not travelling with a husband or male relative.

Mana said some did travel with their husbands and that a lone male passenger was on the returning flight after refusing to be separated from his wife.

He said Nigerian pilgrimage officials have typically stood in for a male relative or husband, but that the sudden rule change means hundreds more women are likely to return.

Saudi authorities could not immediately be reached for comment.

All able-bodied Muslims who can afford it are expected to perform the Hajj pilgrimage at least once.

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