DUSHANBE -- Tajikistan's Ministry of Culture has introduced a new system to regulate the number of potential pilgrims to the Muslim holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia, RFE/RL's Tajik Service reports.
The changes were prompted by the growing number of applications from those intending to carry out the Hajj, or holy pilgrimage.
Abdughaffor Yusufov of the Department of Hajj Issues at the Ministry of Culture said that from now on, every district in Tajikistan would have a special registration book, signed by the local governor and sealed to avoid potential fraud.
All the locals intending to go to Mecca will register and be added to the applicants' list. They must then wait their turn to receive permission to take part in the pilgrimage.
Yusufov noted that Turkey and Iran use similar systems, adding that the Hajj applicants might be asked to deposit up to 60 percent of the Hajj expenses beforehand.
The Hajj will take place in November this year, and Tajik pilgrims will have to pay $3,315 to take part, $400 more than last year.
The quota for Tajikistan is the same as it was last year – 5,000 people.