An official of the Muslim community in South Sudan is urging the Ministry of Finance to release over $160,000 reportedly approved by the President for Islamic pilgrimage this year.
This is money that has accumulated from the pledge -to support the pilgrims -by President Salva Kiir in the last 2 years.
According to Ahmed Abdul-majid, Secretary-General of Hajj and Umrah in South Sudan, Kiir’s financial support for the roundtrips of the worshippers has not been met by the relevant authorities.
“The President last year agreed to pay for 100 pilgrims to go to Mecca, but there were problems when it came to the transfer of the money to us. This year also the President approved the money, but we have not yet received it,” he said.
Abdul-majid, however, said some pilgrims left the country on Tuesday morning for this year’s Hajj in the sacred city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia.
They are 217 and each faithful’s round trip costs $3,600 or 1080,000 South Sudanese pounds at the black market rate of $1 per SSP 300.
This includes return ticket, food and accommodation in Mecca.
Abdul-majid said they used their resources to facilitate this trip, but called on the government to refund the money since it was a contribution from the President to the Islamic community.
“We managed to arrange for all the 217. But we want to make it clear that this money was raised outside and we have made pledges to repay it. So we are urging the concern authorities to implement the order of the President and send us the money because at the end of Hajji we shall be obligated to pay this funds.”
The Hajj is an annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, the holiest city for Muslims, and a mandatory religious duty for Muslims that must be carried out at least once in their lifetime by all adult Muslims who are physically and financially capable of undertaking the journey, and can support their family during their absence.
The rites of Hajj are performed over five or six days, beginning on the eighth and ending on the thirteenth day of Dhu al-Hijjah, the last month of the Islamic calendar.
South Sudan has already declared a public holiday to mark the celebrations of Eid el Adha on Sunday 11, through Tuesday 13.
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