New regulations on the Hajj by the State Administration of Religious Affair will come into force on December 1, and impose a stricter control
by Massimo Introvigne
On October 12, the State Administration of Religious Affairs (which still exists, although some of its activities are now managed by the United Front) has published its 2020 “Measures for Administration of Islamic Haji Affairs.” It is a detailed regulation in 42 articles, which will come into force on December 1, 2020.
In part, the document reiterates provisions still in force. Regional and local quotas will be established, detailing the limited number of Chinese pilgrims allowed to go to Mecca, and all pilgrimages should be organized and managed by the China Islamic Association, one of the so-called five authorized religions. Only those who have never participated in the Mecca pilgrimage, called Hajj by the Muslims (Hajj is the pilgrimage, a Haji is a Muslim who has participated in it), are eligible, meaning that Chinese citizens are allowed to go to Hajj only once in their lifetimes. This is enough to comply with Islamic prescriptions, but pious Muslims in free countries go to Hajj more than once.
Going to Hajj without passing through the China Islamic Association is defined as a criminal offense. But even for those willing to be managed by the official Association, which, the regulation says, should take advantage of the Hajj to indoctrinate pilgrims into “sinicized” Islam, life will not be easy. They should register on a Hajj Web site and hope to be included in the limited quota of officially authorized pilgrims. Not only the pilgrims, but also their relatives, should provide security “for the expenses,” which is also aimed at preventing Muslims from using the pilgrimage to flee China.
Article 12.1 provides that the religious and social life of the candidate to Hajj will be examined, and only those found to be “patriotic and of good conduct” will be eligible. The regulations turn the management of the Hajj into yet another tool of control and surveillance. A limited number of Chinese Muslims will go to Mecca, which will allow the CCP to claim that religious liberty is guaranteed to the Islamic citizens. Most will certainly prefer not to submit the application and be investigated once again with respect to their “patriotic” attitudes and loyalty to the Party. Those considering “unofficial” pilgrimages, on the other hand, now know that they will be regarded as criminals and severely punished.