Source Pravda.Ru

Tatarstan's Pilgrims Heading to Mecca

The first group consisting of 64 Kazan pilgrims is setting for Mecca by bus on Thursday morning, the Ecclesiastic Board of Muslims of the Tatarstan republic (the Volga region) has reported.

A total of 177 pilgrims from Tatarstan intend to visit Saudi Arabia this year. The registration of visas necessary to visit Mecca and Medina, postponed for the lack of pilgrims' four-component inoculations, has lately been accomplished.

Agreements with ferrymen to deliver hadjis to Saudi Arabia, provide them with accommodation and guides speaking Arabian, Tatar and Russian have been concluded in the framework of the "Imel-Hadj" program.

The first group of pilgrims is setting off for Mecca by bus, while the second one consisting of 111 people will go there by plane on February 4th. Students of the Russian Islamic University, employees, pensioners and representatives of other social strata will also participate in the hadj.

The bus with pilgrims will travel across the Volga region, leave Russia and proceed across Azerbaijan, Iran, Turkey, Syria and Jordan.

Every year over two million Muslims go on a hadj. Pilgrimage quotas for each country depend on the number of the faithful /approximately one thousand per one million of Muslims/ and are determined by the "Islamic congress" organisation.

This year Saudi Arabia has given Russia a quota for 14,000 pilgrims, while in 2002 18,000 people were allowed to make the pilgrimage to Mecca, the Russian Federal Frontier Service said.