Monday, December 17, 2007

Religious freedom in unexpected places...

Putin Opens Mecca Path for Muslims

Barred by the Soviets for decades from carrying out Islam’s most sacred rite, such pilgrims were among the tens of thousands of Russian Muslims traveling to Saudi Arabia to join the masses in Mecca for the annual pilgrimage, or hajj, to one of Islam’s holiest sites. Their numbers have swelled in the last several years thanks largely to Russia’s growing wealth and increasing stability in the predominantly Muslim North Caucasus region, including in Chechnya, where the effects of nearly a decade of war have begun to fade.

More Chinese Muslims to join Hajj to Mecca
Ningxia is home to 1.8 million Muslims of the Hui minority group, who worship in more than 3,000 mosques. The nine million Hui across China are the descendants of Arab traders who started to arrive in China in the 7th Century.

After hundreds of years of inter-marriage they are indistinguishable from the majority Han Chinese population, apart from their adherence to Islam. Now more are re-discovering their roots by learning Arabic and adopting Islamic customs.

It's nice to see that after years of suppression of all religions, China and Russia are opening the doors to religious freedom and expression. Hopefully, the start of something good for both countries and its religious minorities.

1 comment:

T said...

you finally read a ny times article without me having forwarded it to you first...