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People's Daily Online>>China Society

Pilgrimage participants journey home

(Global Times)

09:03, December 05, 2011

The last direct chartered flight, carrying 324 Muslims from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, arrived at Beijing International Airport on Sunday, marking an end to the annual Hajj journey, Xinhua reported. Almost 14,000 Chinese Muslims made the pilgrimage to Mecca this year.

The deputy director of the State Administration for Religious Affairs (SARA) and the vice presidents of the Islamic Association of China (IAC) were at the airport to welcome the Muslims and congratulate them on a successful pilgrimage, Xinhua said.

Zhao Wenqi, Imam of the Dongxin Street Mosque in Xi'an, said the trip went smoothly. "They will arrive in Shaanxi on Tuesday by train," Zhao told the Global Times.

The SARA and the IAC coordinated the tours and are in charge of the selection process. According to Zhao, after China established diplomatic relations with Saudi Arabia, it began to organize its Muslim trips to Mecca Hajj. The first trip was in 1989.

"In the old days, Chinese Muslims went to Mecca solo, even on foot," said Zhao. "The journey was long and arduous, often made by crossing Pakistan."

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