Government officials and politicians are misusing money deposited by people on the waiting list for the annual pilgrimage of Muslims to Mecca in Saudi Arabia, some Indonesian government investigators and corruption watchdog groups have claimed. Officials and politicians have been accused of sharing some USD2.8 million worth of bribes from the Ministry of Religious Affairs, the New York Times reports. Some lawmakers have also hinted at the existence of a mafia-like organization that makes money out of the annual pilgrimage or hajj. Parliamentary leaders and officials of the Ministry of Religious Affairs have denied the allegations, explaining that corruption watchdogs misinterpreted the ministry’s procedure for handling the money deposited by people waiting to go on the pilgrimage.
The government of Saudi Arabia regulates the number of Muslims from other countries who can go on the pilgrimage. Up to 211,000 Indonesians will reportedly be allowed to join the hajj this year, according to NYT.