By RFE RL
(RFE/RL) — The Kyrgyz parliament has adopted amendments to its law on religions that prevent government officials from being involved in the preparations for the annual hajj in Saudi Arabia after reports of corruption, RFE/RL’s Kyrgyz Service reports.
Tursunbai Bakir uulu, a parliament deputy who initiated the amendments, said in parliament on February 4 that the changes would “stop corruption in Kyrgyzstan surrounding the hajj pilgrimage.”
Last month, the chairman of the Congress of Muslims in Kyrgyzstan and Central Asia, Bakyt Nurdinov, accused the Kyrgyz government of “illegal involvement in the selection of pilgrims among Kyrgyz Muslims and the organization of their trip to Mecca.”
Nurdinov said corruption in the hajj organization was used by some officials for “making illegal money.”
Government officials received a quota of hajj invitations from Saudi Arabia that they were to distribute to Muslims wanting to make the pilgrimage to Mecca.
Kyrgyz officials have been accused of selling the invitations for large sums of money or giving them to friends and relatives.