18 January 2017, 13:07
Hajj quota enlarged by more than third for Uzbek Muslims
Tashkent, January 18, Interfax - As many as 7,200 Uzbek Muslims have been permitted to visit holy places in Mecca and Medina during a hajj in 2017, the Uzbek government's Committee on Religious Affairs said.
The Saudi Arabia hajj quota stood at only 5,200 Uzbek Muslims in the past few years.
It has been decided on the proposal of the Uzbek Islamic Department and a number of parliamentary organizations that only the Muslims who have never been on a hajj before will qualify for the quota, the committee said.
"The reason is the large number of people willing to perform a hajj," it said.
Early this year, Saudi Arabia enlarged hajj quotas for 2017, after the number of hajjis hit a ten-year minimal record in 2016. King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud agreed to enlarge the number of hajjis and Mecca infrastructure. Earlier, the Saudi authorities cut the quotas by 20% for foreign hajjis and by 50% for local residents because of the renovation and expansion of the area.
According to the Uzbek Committee on Religious Affairs, 94% of the Uzbek population is Muslim, 3.5% are Orthodox Christians, and the rest belong to other religious denominations.
A total of 2,239 religious organizations of 16 denominations, including 2,064 Muslim and 157 Christian organizations, eight Jewish communities, six Bahai communities, a society for Krishna consciousness, a Buddhist temple and an inter-confessional Biblical society are registered in the country.