From the Xinhua news agency.
Chinese pilgrims return home from Mecca
YINCHUAN, Dec. 5 (Xinhua) — A plane carrying 323 Chinese pilgrims landed safely at Hedong Airport of Yinchuan, northwest China’s Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, Saturday afternoon.
They are the first batch of Chinese Muslims to return home after completing their pilgrimage to Mecca this year.
Ma Junji, a 75-year-old pilgrim, said the hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia) is the most important religious task in his life.
“Thanks to the government’s assistance, the pilgrimage went on quite well. As I am a hajji now, I will do more good deeds in the future, “Ma said.
The hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam. Every able-bodied Muslim is required to do it at least once in life if he or she can afford it. Chinese Muslims have a long history of making the pilgrimage to Mecca, dating back to Ming Dynasty.
A total of 2,250 people from Ningxia went for the hajj this year. They are scheduled to return home by seven chartered planes from Dec. 5 to Dec. 17.
Li Yushan, an official with the regional bureau for religious affairs, said as the A/H1N1 virus was found among some foreign pilgrims, the government sent 14 medical staff to accompany the Chinese pilgrims to ensure their safety.
They sterilized all the rooms where Chinese pilgrims lived every day, said Li.
Before those Muslims left for Mecca, they were all inoculated with A/H1N1 vaccines.
“These measures are effective, as no A/H1N1 case has been reported among Chinese pilgrims so far, “said Li.
According to Li, after returning home, the Chinese pilgrims must undergo strict temperature checkup at the airport and they are required to stay apart from other people for seven days.
More than 2.1 million people, or more than one third of the population in Ningxia, are from the Hui ethnic group.
Editor: Zhang Xiang