China: Record number of Chinese Muslims to make Mecca pilgrimage

Click here: Xinhua – Record number of Chinese Muslims to make Mecca pilgrimage

A record 10,700 Chinese Muslims are expected to make a pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, the Islamic Association of China (IAC) said here on Wednesday. It is the first time the figure has topped the 10,000 mark.

Between Nov. 15 and Dec. 7, Chinese Muslims will travel via 33 non-stop charter flights to the Islamic holy site and return between Dec. 25 to Jan. 16, according to IAC Vice Chairman Yang Zhipo. The first group of more than 3,940 Muslim pilgrims will leave on Thursday from Lanzhou, capital of northwest China’s Gansu Province, almost one month ahead of the pilgrimage rites that take place between Dec. 18-22.

The number of Chinese making pilgrimages has risen steadily in recent years. In 2004, more than 4,700 made the trip, while last year the figure rose to 9,799. Yinchuan, the Ningxia capital, has been added as the fifth departure port for non-stop charter flights to Saudi Arabia as of this year.

“Muslims from northwest China’s Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region will now find it easier to fulfill their pilgrimages,” Yang said.Previously, Ningxia Muslims had to travel to adjacent Gansu Province for flights to Saudi Arabia. The other four departure ports are Beijing, Urumqi, Lanzhou and Kunming.

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