Britain has spent Â£100,000 on official delegation to Mecca
The Foreign Office has spent up to £100,000 of taxpayers' money on sending a British delegation on the annual Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca.
The group, led by two Labour peers, Lord Ahmed and Lord Patel of Blackburn, has travelled to Saudi Arabia for four years to "support" British Muslims among the 2 million pilgrims who go on the Haj. Britain is believed to be the only Christian country to send an official delegation on the pilgrimage. Christian pilgrims and Jews or Hindus visiting holy sites are understood not to receive similar support.
The British Haj delegation includes Foreign Office officials and doctors who can treat British pilgrims suffering from heat exhaustion and other ailments. The Foreign Office said it spent £30,000 on supporting the British delegation last year and £20,000 in previous years. It has already approved the budget for next year.
One anti-racism campaigner said the money would be better spent in Britain, promoting understanding between British Muslims and other racial and religious groups and supporting community projects. "This is a lot of money and it should be spent on promoting multiculturalism in Britain," said Tara Mukherjee, chairman of the London-based European Multicultural Foundation. "The money should be spent on helping to accommodate Muslims in a secular society."
About 50,000 British Muslims make the pilgrimage each year, many of whom are elderly, and an estimated 1,500 people sought help and advice from the British delegation.
Lord Ahmed said: "The involvement of the Foreign Office is useful. The delegation can treat people with minor diseases and cut the cost to the National Health Service. The British delegation put up big signposts and they give out leaflets to people so people can identify them."
- 1 Migrant crisis: Greek soldier saved 20 people singlehandedly off Rhodes beach
- 2 Sofyen Belamouadden murder: The inside story of a crime that horrified Britain
- 3 UK weather: Britain braced for snow as arctic air mass moves in
- 5 'Isis' schoolgirls: Missing British teenager tweets picture of her Syrian takeaway
Migrant crisis: Greek soldier saved 20 people singlehandedly off Rhodes beach
Ian Brady: Moors murderer announces his support for Ukip and the SNP
Aaron and Melissa Klein: Oregon anti-gay bakers ordered to pay $135,000 after refusing to make cake for same-sex wedding
UK weather: Britain braced for snow as arctic air mass moves in
Power of Nepal earthquake was equivalent to 20 huge atomic bombs
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
The sickening truth about food banks that the Tories don't want you to know
Migrant boat disaster: Ukip candidate mocks victims in sickening Twitter post
Nigel Farage wants the BBC to stop making programmes like Doctor Who, Strictly Come Dancing, and Top Gear
Global warming: Scientists say temperatures could rise by 6C by 2100 and call for action ahead of UN meeting in Paris
General Election 2015: Britain would become a 'communist dictatorship' under Ed Miliband and Nicola Sturgeon, claims wife of Michael Gove
£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Photographer/ Floor planner /...
£30000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Guildford/Craw...
£13500 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Customer Service Assistant is...
£16000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An ambitious and motivated Sale...