ALGERIA BEGINS TALKS WITH SAUDI AUTHORITIES FOR INCREASE IN NUMBER OF PILGRIMS

ORAN, -- The Algerian Minister or Religious Affairs, Mohamed Aissa, says negotiations are underway with the Saudi authorities to increase Algeria's quota of hajj pilgrims to Islam holy places to 40,000 from next year.

"We have engaged in negotiations with Saudi Arabia's Hajj Ministry to increase Algeria's quota to 40,000 hajjis as from next year," Aissa said as he witnessed the departure of the eighth group of Algeria pilgrims to the Holy Places of Islam from Ahmed Ben Bella International Airport in Oran.

Mohamed Benaissa stressed that Algerians' request for hajj places is rising year on year and the current quota of 30,000 hajjis is no longer sufficient. "Nearly one million persons applied to make the hajj this year," said the minister, who did not rule out resorting to a "computerized drawing lots" system to select pilgrims for the hajj in future.

The minister also affirmed that sanctions would be applied against those who did not fulfill their commitment to ensuring the best travelling and accommodation conditions for Algerian pilgrims in the Holy Places.

Source: Nam News Network