China issues new regulation on organizing hajj, ban Private Hajj operators.

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China released on Monday a regulation on affairs related to hajj made by Chinese Muslims to ensure the safety of the journeys and provide better services in organizing the pilgrimage trips for the believers.

The regulation has a total of 42 articles on organizing hajj-related affairs, including one that stipulates that Chinese Muslims’ pilgrimage should be organized in accordance with laws, and the Chinese Islamic Association is the only organization that is authorized to arrange for Chinese Muslims to go to Mecca in Saudi Arabia to perform hajj. No other organization or individual should organize the trips, and Chinese citizens should meet basic requirements when applying for the hajj, the regulation stipulates.

People who go overseas to perform hajj should abide by China’s and the destination country’ laws and regulations, and oppose religious extremism, according to the regulations. The related government departments are requested to fulfill their responsibilities and ban illegal hajj activities.

Effective starting December 1, the regulation aims to facilitate Chinese Muslims’ pilgrimages as well as ensure their security during the journey, analysts and religious groups reached by the Global Times said.

The regulation was jointly released by eight ministries and departments – National Religious Affairs Administration, Foreign Ministry, Ministry of Public Security, Ministry of Culture and Tourism, National Health Commission, Central Administration of Customs, State Administration for Market Regulation, and Civil Aviation Administration of China.

A source familiar with hajj-related affairs in China told the Global Times that the Chinese Islamic Association has an office on hajj work and will take the lead role in organizing hajj. Islamic associations across China will offer help under the guidance of the Chinese Islamic Association in facilitating procedures for local Muslims.

China has organized chartered flights every year for Chinese Muslims to fly to Mecca for hajj.

Historically, some Muslims in China’s remote areas were poor and few of them had been able to afford performing hajj. After 1949, because of security concerns, Muslims who wanted to attend hajj in Mecca gradually turned to the local governments and Islamic organizations for help. In the 1990s, China began organizing hajj pilgrimages to Saudi Arabia, Zhu Weiqun, former head of the Ethnic and Religious Affairs Committee of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, told the Global Times previously.

“Organizing trips for hajj is welcomed by Muslims in China, since better services are offered during the trips. China’s well organized annual hajj trips have also been welcomed by Saudi Arabia, which faces great pressure on transportation and other infrastructure during hajj,” Zhu said.

Muslims reached by the Global Times also said that they welcome the organized trips to perform hajj as it helps them avoid language and other problems. During the journey, pilgrims are also accompanied by a medical team as well as religious teachers.

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