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Kyrgyz Mufti Visits Saudi Arabia To Negotiate Hajj Quota

Mufti Chubak-Hajj Jalilov
Mufti Chubak-Hajj Jalilov
BISHKEK -- Kyrgyzstan's mufti has left for Saudi Arabia to discuss his country's quota for this year's hajj pilgrimage, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reports.

Chubak-Hajji Jalilov's trip follows an attempt by parliament to prevent government officials from being involved in the hajj preparations, after reports that some officials were selling the hajj invitations for large sums of money or giving them to friends and relatives.

Last year the Saudi authorities set a quota of 4,500 for Kyrgyz Muslims wishing to go on the annual pilgrimage to Mecca.

But the selection of would-be pilgrims was subsequently found to have been marred by irregularities and violations of the law on the part of the Kyrgyz State Commission for Religious Affairs, which was responsible for the process.

Those infringements became the subject of special parliamentary hearings that culminated in the passage of a new law on the hajj that transfers responsibility for organizing the hajj to the Kyrgyz Directorate for Spiritual and Religious Affairs, the muftiate that Jalilov heads.

President Roza Otunbaeva declined, however, to sign the new law and sent it back to the parliament for additional discussion. The legal responsibility of the muftiate, and of Jalilov personally, for coordinating the hajj from Kyrgyzstan is therefore open to question.

A Kyrgyz Directorate for Spiritual and Religious Affairs spokesman told RFE/RL that the delegation headed by Jalilov will spend 10 days in Saudi Arabia.

Read more in Kyrgyz here