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Travel Agency Needs Court Help for Hajjis

MINNEAPOLIS (CN) - A travel agency needs a court order so it can sell tickets to Muslims who want to make the trip to Mecca this year. Adam Travel Services says someone sent a disparaging letter to the Saudi Arabian Embassy in Washington, claiming to speak for the Confederation of Somali Community in Minnesota, and the Embassy demands a court order backing up Adam's claims that the letter was bogus.

The unsigned letter was on letterhead that appeared to be from the Confederation of Somali Community in Minnesota. The Confederation has disavowed the letter, but the Embassy wants a court order to prove it, according to the complaint in Hennepin County Court.

Boston-based Adam Travel says it needs the court order to sell tickets for the hajj, which is Nov. 10-20 this year.

(It is a religious requirement for all Muslims who can afford it and are physically able to do it to make the hajj, or trip to Mecca, at least once in their life. Those who make the trip may use the word "hajji" as an honorific before their name. Although the term has been used disparagingly by U.S. soldiers in Iraq, it is an honorable title among Muslims.)

Adam claims the Saudi Embassy informed it about the disparaging letter, whose allegations Adam calls "meritless." The Somali group, which actually exists, denied that it wrote the letter, and denied that the letterhead is its own, according to the complaint.

Despite being informed of this, the Saudi Embassy warned Adam Travel not to "enter into any travel contracts with hotels in Makkah [Mecca] or Madina [Medina] for this year's Hajj until the issues raised in the letter ... have been resolved."

Adam says a "significant portion" of its business involves arranging travel for Muslims in the United States who wish make the hajj. Among them are a large number of Somali immigrants who live in Minnesota.

The Saudi Embassy demands a court order declaring that the letter is invalid before it will reinstate Adam's booking privileges. So Adam wants the court order.

Adam Travel is represented by Joseph Dudley with Dudley and Smith of St. Paul.

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