Sunday, September 14, 2008


Muslims travelling to Mecca for the Hajj will be issued with unrestricted passports valid for travel anywhere in the world, Immigration Minister Otieno Kajwang’ has said.

In the past, pilgrims applying for passports were issued with travel documents valid for one year and restricted to the Middle East.

"The restriction imposed on passports issued to Muslims travelling for the Hajj shall be lifted. Consequently, they will be issued with travel documents valid for 10 years," Mr Kajwang’ said.
He was speaking at his offices, where he held a meeting with officials of the Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims (Supkem). The officials had an audience with the Minister to seek intervention to expedite the issuance of passports ahead of the annual pilgrimage in December. Supkem had complained the Government discriminated against Muslims seeking legal documents.

"When a person of the Islamic faith is seeking an identity card or passport they are asked to produce a variety of supporting documents, a requirement that is not imposed on other Kenyans. It is unfair to ask a man of over 50 years to produce his parents’ birth certificates," said Sharrif Omar, Supkem’s organising secretary.

The minister directed that those seeking travel documents would only be required to produce their identity cards and birth certificates. "The rules will be uniform for everyone unless under special situations where the attending officer after perusing the required documents still has some doubts," he said. Kajwang’ also assured Muslims the Government would issue passports in good time for them to process their visas. The pilgrimage in December follows yet another important pillar of Islam-the Holy Month of Ramadhan.