• Illicit Wheelchair Rides Land Thousands In Cuffs In Saudi Arabia

    Authorities at the Grand Mosque in Mecca cracked down on thousands for offering wheelchair rides without permission during the month of Ramadan.

    The Grand Mosque Wheelchair Directorate arrested 3,022 people for servicing the the elderly and disabled by providing wheelchairs for them to move about the world’s largest mosque, because they hadn’t received authorization, Saudi Gazette reports.

    It is unclear if visitors were charged for the wheelchair ride or if it was offered for free. It is also unknown if offenders are still in custody or have been released.

    The mosque provides 12,000 wheelchairs for free, 50 electronically-powered ones and and 512 for rent. But it doesn’t provide people to push the chairs, so visitors either manually power their chair or use an electronic one.

    According to Director Misleh Al-Mihmadi, one of the mosque’s biggest problems is that visitors don’t return wheelchairs where they found them, leaving them by gates or in the parking lot. “He added this problem is costing them a lot as many wheelchairs go missing and the ones found are damaged,” Saudi Gazette reported.

    Muslims are wrapping up Islam’s holy month of Ramadan with a holiday known as “Eid al-Fitr” this weekend. During Ramadan, many believers perform an annual pilgrimage or “Hajj” to Mecca, undertaking seven days of rituals. In this period, they visit the Grand Mosque and circle the Kaaba, a black stone on mosque grounds, seven times.

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