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Council on American-Islamic Relations offers advice for US Hajj pilgrims
US-based advocacy group the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) said it is offering guidance for US travellers taking part in the pilgrimage to Mecca or Haj taking place in mid-October.
According to the group, thousands of American Muslims will soon travel to take part in religious observances associated with the annual Hajj, or pilgrimage to Mecca, taking place in mid-October.
Because of past concerns about “flying while Muslim” airport profiling incidents, CAIR is urging American Muslims taking part in this year´s pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia to be aware of their legal rights and responsibilities as citizens and travelers when leaving from or returning to the United States.
CAIR said that Muslim travellers should check any baggage containing Zamzam water bottles that brought back to the US. Airlines will not allow passengers to carry liquids in large quantities on the plane. (Zamzam water is drawn from a well within the Masjid al-Haram in Mecca and has religious significance for Muslims.)
Passengers bringing back dates should make sure they are processed and sufficiently dry. Shoes are cleansed of any soil as US Customs and Border Protection has strict rules regarding entry of soil and chemicals into the country.
Items such as gifts or purchases worth more than USD 800 per person should be declared using the CBP Declaration form made available by airline staff when landing. Otherwise, CBP may confiscate them.
In order to enter or re-enter the United States, travelers must go through two processes at US ports of entry; immigration and customs. CBP officers are required to verify the identities of travelers on their entry into the United States, the group said.
They must also ensure that travelers have not been engaged in illegal activity that poses a threat to national security.