Monday, September 22, 2008

Saudi gang forces blind teen to beg

From Saudi Gazette in Saudi Arabia:

MAKKAH – A squad from the Anti-Beggary Department has picked up a blind boy who was forced to beg in the streets of Makkah in exchange for food.

Hussein, a 14-year-old Nigerian, was taken out of his house every day in
Ramadan and left in the district of Al-Masfala from 2 A.M. until dawn.

“They’d leave me in areas where there are lots of passers-by, people performing Umrah and visitors, and I would sit there repeating the phrase that their money would be for God’s work,” Hussein said. “I would collect at least SR200 everyday.”

At dawn, the same person who dropped Hussein off would come to pick him up.

“He’d take me home to Siteen Street and would appear again the next day, and so on until the end of Ramadan.After Ramadan I would stay with a group of others and we’d be fed the rest of the year.”

The Anti-Beggary Department has placed Hussein in one of its care centers where a large number of other children with similar stories can also be found.

Among them are Mohammed and Said Jawda, two Yemeni brothers no more than
17-year-old, who had walked for some 20 days across sometimes perilous territory, to avoid being caught by security forces.

“And then we met someone else who had also entered illegally and knew all the tracks and paths, and he wanted SR300 each to take us to Makkah,” Mohammed said.

“We didn’t have that sort of money, so we got a relation of ours to transfer it to his bank account.” “We worked all last month until the squad picked us up,” he said.