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.
(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
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