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Age Restriction On Tajik Pilgrimage To Mecca

DUSHANBE --- Tajikistan's Religious Affairs Committee says it has introduced age restrictions on those wishing to make the pilgrimage to Islam's holy city of Mecca, RFE/RL's Tajik Service reports.

Abdughaffor Yusupov, head of the committee's Hajj Department, told RFE/RL that this year only citizens between the ages of 18 and 80 would be able to take part in the annual hajj pilgrimage, or the "umrah," the lesser pilgrimage that can be completed at any time of the year,

Yusupov said an additional column would also be added to the pilgrim registration book -- which lists all applicants -- to show each participant's source of income.

The committee says the changes were prompted by the growing number of applications from those intending to carry out the hajj, or holy pilgrimage.

This year Tajikistan's hajj quota set by Saudi authorities is 5,500 -- 500 more than in 2009.

Tajik pilgrims will have to pay some $3,200 -- about $150 less than last year -- to take part in this year's hajj, which will take place in November.