Millennium Post

China punishes 32 officials for corruption in Mecca pilgrimage

China punishes 32 officials for corruption in Mecca pilgrimage
Six officials have been expelled from the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC), including the director of Xinjiang’s pilgrimage affairs office. Others received different punishments, including removal from current posts and warnings, state-run Global Times reported on Friday. “The 32 officials seriously violated Party discipline.

They abused their power, neglected their duty, and took bribes (in the course of their) pilgrimage affairs work,” it said. An official at the Xinjiang Politics and Law Committee told the paper that officials took bribes in exchange for granting the pilgrimage applications to unqualified Muslims.

China has over 20 million Muslims which included 11 million Uygurs and over 10 million Muslims from the ethnic Hui community.

Xinjiang experienced riots followed by violent terrorist incidents in recent years over tensions between local Uygur Muslims and migrant Hans from other provinces. China says East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), an Al- Qaeda backed organisation, was behind the recurring violence.

Muslims in China must submit an application with legal documents to the government’s pilgrimage department, and must also meet several requirements. A limited number of pilgrims is allowed to visit Mecca each year.

Over 14,000 Chinese pilgrims went to Mecca for the annual pilgrimage on a 95 chartered flight last year, according to official media reports.

Turgunjan Tursun, a research fellow at the Xinjiang Academy of Social Sciences, said that general requirement for the applications are age, health and financial condition. “There are a number of applicants who meet the requirements, but they have to wait in line to be chosen,” Tursun further said.

“It is not a simple religious ceremony to organise, but rather one that requires (coordination and) approval from authorities from both countries,” he told the daily. The strict regulations and long waiting period were the catalysts for the bribes, said Pan Zhiping, another research fellow at the academy.

“Some Muslims who do not meet the requirements may bribe officials when they submit false documents during applications,” Pan added.



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