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Hajj trips consolidated under one association

By CUI JIA | China Daily | Updated: 2020-10-13 08:47

File photo: Muslims gather in Id Kah mosque in Kashgar, Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, for Friday prayers. [Photo by Zou Hong/chinadaily.com.cn]

Only the China Islamic Association is allowed to organize the participation of Chinese Muslims in the annual hajj pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, according a new regulation on the hajj published on Monday.

The regulation on Islamic pilgrimage affairs was jointly drafted by eight authorities including the State Administration for Religious Affairs, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Public Security and the Ministry of Culture and Tourism.

People who apply for the annual pilgrimage trips must submit their applications to local religious affairs departments and join the waiting list. Additionally, they must follow pilgrimage rules and stay away from religious extremism, according to the regulation that will take effect on Dec 1.

"The regulation clearly states the responsibility of each authority during the organization of the hajj, which means Chinese Muslims can receive better services during one of the most religious activities in their lives," said Dai Junfeng, head of the Islamic Association of Kunming, Yunnan province.

The hajj is not only a religious activity but also an overseas affair involving a large number of Chinese people. By handling such an affair in accordance with the law, people's welfare and safety can be fully protected, he added.

More than 10,000 Chinese pilgrims have had the opportunity to attend the annual hajj in recent years depending on the quota given by Saudi Arabia. An annual quota is then given to each province or region depending on its Muslim population. Due to the limit, there has always been a long waiting list in China to attend the annual pilgrimage.

Followers in Yunnan, which has a large Muslim population, have to wait at least three to four years before they can be offered the chance to participate in the hajj. In some places, the waiting time can be up to nine years, Dai said.

Furthermore, the regulation stated that people who organize illegal hajj tours will be punished in accordance with the law, and official hajj organizers will also be punished if they are found abusing their power or neglecting their duties.

"By providing better care and a fair waiting system for the pilgrims, people will be unlikely to choose illegal hajj tours," Dai said.

The China Islamic Association suspended organizing Chinese Muslims to attend the hajj this year after Saudi Arabia decided to bar Muslims from other countries from taking part in the annual pilgrimage to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Some 2.5 million pilgrims typically visit the holiest sites of Islam in Mecca and Medina for the weeklong hajj.


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