Last Chinese leave Beijing for pilgrimage to Mecca

08:31, November 04, 2010      

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The last 980 Chinese pilgrims left Beijing Wednesday evening aboard three chartered flights headed for Saudi Arabia for the Hajj.

They were seen off at Beijing's Capital Airport by senior officials with China's State Administration of Religious Affairs, Islamic Association of China, and Saudi Arabia's ambassador to China.

They are among 13,000 Chinese pilgrims, who, starting from Oct. 18, left on chartered flights for the journey to Mecca, respectively from Beijing, Urumqi, Kunming, Lanzhou and Yinchuan cities.

Chartered flights will also be arranged for them to return to China following the end of the Muslim pilgrimage, known as the Hajj, which will take place on Nov. 15-19, according to officials.

China has around 23 million Muslims in more than 20 provinces, autonomous regions, and municipalities, according to official statistics.

A pilgrimage to Mecca, the birthplace of the Prophet Mohammed and a shrine for Muslims across the world, is a religious duty that must be carried out at least once in lifetime by every able-bodied Muslim who can afford to do so.

Source: Xinhua


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