November 19, 2012 -
Starting next year, Saudi Arabian authorities will demand that all hajj pilgrims be fingerprinted, RIA Novosti reports.
“A centralized database on pilgrims from around the world will be formed for the purpose,” Federation Council speaker and Russian government’s point man for religious affairs, Ilyas Umakhanov said in Moscow.
According to the article, Russia earlier received an official note from Saudi Arabia saying that visas will no longer be issued without fingerprinting for next year’s pilgrimage. A quick check by BiometricUpdate.com shows that on the Ministry of Hajj website, no information regarding fingerprinting for the 2013 pilgrimage is listed.
The Hajj is a demonstration of the solidarity of the Muslim people and their submission to Allah. It is the largest regularly occurring pilgrimage in the world, and is one of the five pillars of Islam. Every able-bodied Muslim who can afford the trip is encouraged to make it at least once in their lifetime.
Occurring on the 8th to 12th day of Dhu al-Hijjah, the last month of the Islamic calendar, the Gregorian date of the Hajj changes each year. The Hajj in 2012 took place last month between October 24th and 29th.
Fingerprinting is being introduced as Saudi Authorities have decided to give priority to first-time pilgrims.
In 2009, the Kaduna State Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Board in Nigeria used the M2Sys Bio-Plugin to keep a database of records that include every detail related to Hajj, including how many times a pilgrim had made the trip.
As of yet, there’s no indication of how Saudi Arabian authorities intend to collect fingerprints of all 2013 pilgrims.