Authorities in Tajikistan have barred low-income citizens from making the annual Hajj pilgrimage.
(AhlulBayt News Agency) - According to a report by maide.az website, the government of the Central Asian country will prevent the poor from going on the pilgrimage next year.
The authorities say the measure is aimed at preventing low-income families from becoming more destitute.
The financial status of those who want to register for Hajj will be investigated before they are allowed to make the journey to Saudi Arabia.
Earlier this year, the Dushanbe government banned the Hajj for citizens younger than 35.
The government’s Committee for Religious and Cultural Issues announced the Hajj restriction on April 13.
The committee said it was intended to give older Muslims a greater opportunity to undertake the Hajj, as Saudi Arabia limits the number of pilgrims from each country annually.
However, many in the Central Asian country believe the ban was an attempt to prevent young Tajiks from developing radical ideas and joining extremist groups.
Technically, freedom of religion is enshrined in the constitution of Tajikistan. But in reality, religious practice–at least for members of the country’s Muslim majority–is tightly controlled by the state. In recent months, Tajikistan has further steadied its grip on the practice of Islam with the president commenting on proper attire and reports of forced beard-shavings.