KUALA LUMPUR: The first batch of 36 pilgrims, out of 63 stranded in Saudi Arabia since last June after performing the umrah pilgrimage, arrived home today.

Wisma Putra, in a statement today, said the pilgrims arrived at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) at 5.50 am today, with the 27 pilgrims scheduled to arrive on the next flight.

It said the return of the pilgrims was carried out in compliance with the rules and laws set by the Saudi Arabia government.

“This is to maintain the close bilateral relations between Malaysia and Saudi Arabia, as well as the privileges accorded to Malaysia, such as the tourist visa facility which is only given to 49 countries,“ read the statement.

The Malaysian government, it said, expressed its appreciation to all parties involved in helping to bring home the pilgrims concerned.

It also advised Malaysian citizens travelling abroad to always abide by and respect the laws of the host country to avoid getting into trouble.

Meanwhile, it was earlier reported that the 63 pilgrims, comprising 28 adults and 35 children, were brought to Madinah in March by a tariqa group Naqsyabandiyah Al-Kholidiah to perform umrah.

However, they remained in Madinah and were never taken to Makkah to perform the umrah.

Following the incident, the tariqa leader was deported by the Saudi Arabia government last Aug 20. - Bernama

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