BEIJING (Reuters) – China is investigating 32 officials from the western region of Xinjiang for graft linked to pilgrimages by Muslims to Mecca, state media said on Thursday.
Xinjiang is home to the mostly Muslim Uighur people. Hundreds of people have been killed there over the past two years in violence between Uighurs and ethnic majority Han Chinese that the government blames on Muslim separatists.
China’s Uighur Muslims can usually only make pilgrimages to Mecca on government-organised trips.
The China Daily, the country’s official English-language newspaper, said 14,000 such pilgrimages were organised in 2014 though some of the people who went to Mecca were “unqualified”. It did not explain what that meant.
“In addition to arranging pilgrimages for unqualified people, the investigated officials were found to have asked for and received bribes or neglected the inspection and management of pilgrimage work,” the China Daily said, citing the anti-graft watchdog.
The officials, most of them from Xinjiang’s Kizilsu prefecture, violated Communist Party discipline, were derelict of duty, abused their power for personal gain and made power-for-money deals, the newspaper said.