October 18, 2012 (JUBA) – Over 900 South Sudanese Muslims have left the country’s capital, Juba, for pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia as they express making the dream a reality for the first time.
The pilgrims on Thursday boarded planes including a Sudanese commercial airliner chanting Allah Akhbar or “God is great” and commending the government for facilitating their mission to the Islamic holy city.
South Sudan is a multi-religious country with Christianity and traditional beliefs in the lead while Islam is third largest religion.
The government has adopted a policy of religious freedom and tolerance and helped facilitate the travel of the pilgrims through the office of the President and the Bank of South Sudan.
Able pilgrims were asked to deposit their money in the Bank of South Sudan which in turn transmits the amount directly to a correspondent bank in Saudi Arabia for their feeding and accommodation during the period of stay.
It is the first time that South Sudanese Muslims have officially travelled from the new country to Mecca 14 months after independence. The pilgrims are expected to stay in Saudi Arabia for about two weeks and return to South Sudan.