This year, 40% more pilgrims will go on hajj, which will begin in late August, compared to last year. In 2016, about 1.9 million Muslims made the pilgrimage to Muslim shrines, and this year their number could increase to 2.6 million. The authorities of Saudi Arabia attribute a positive dynamic to the fact that the reconstruction of the Hajj infrastructure has been completed. The Great Mosque of Mecca’s capacity increased to 48 thousand pilgrims per hour. The quota for all states has already been restored, based on the principle of one pilgrim per thousands believers.
The Deputy Chairman of the Federation Council, the attorney on Hajj issues in the Commission on Religious Entities under the Russian government, Ilyas Umakhanov, explained that Russia is allowed to send 20,500 people to perform Hajj. Will Russia be able to make full use of this quota? “In previous years, we did not fill the quota, even when it was cut by 20%, because of a sharp jump in the exchange rate of the ruble against the dollar. Now the situation is improving. Last year, we practically filled the quota. This year, the Saudi authorities introduced an innovation.
They recommended all countries to register up to 5% of persons who do not have the citizenship of the country. We will proceed from the premise that this rule will apply only to those representatives of different states who have a residence permit and legally correct documents, which will require additional verification due to a number of circumstances. The Russian Federation has a certain responsibility to the Saudi authorities for ensuring the safety of pilgrims, including for their behavior,” Umakhanov explained. According to him, there are certain difficulties with this new category for the organizers of hajj.
The senator also said that last year the Russian Hajj mission was recognized as one of the three best hajj missions in the world, and this year Russia’s tour prices for hajj are the lowest in the world. Even in Jordan, which is closest to Saudi Arabia, tour prices for hajj are more expensive than in the Russian Federation.
According to Umakhanov, the number of pilgrims from Crimea, traveling on Russian passports, is increasing: “In two years, their number has increased fourfold. We believe that this year the number of pilgrims representing Crimean Tatars will be much higher as well. This, by the way, is a serious argument in our discussions with opponents when they talk about infringement or lawlessness [of Crimean Tatars]. It is a kind of a litmus test, because it is impossible to make a person to perform hajj. It should be his own desire”.
Source: Vestnik News
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