Baku. Mubariz Aslanov – APA. Azerbaijan has not prohibited pilgrimages to Karbala and Mashhad, but these trips have to be regulated, Mubariz Gurbanli, chairman of the State Committee for Work with Religious Organizations, told reporters on Thursday.
Earlier, seven buses carrying about 500 Azerbaijani pilgrims had been stopped at Iran's Mehran border checkpoint on return from Karbala due to a problem of documentation. The problem has already been resolved.
Gurbanli noted that companies organizing trips to religious sites have to first get permit from the State Committee in this regard.
“The Hajj pilgrimage is an exception since it takes place on the basis of a protocol between the State Committee and Saudi Arabia. Unfortunately, the last such trip [to Karbala] was illegal,” he said.
He added that Azerbaijani citizens going to Iran and Iraq do not usually face any problem.
“We consider that a special attention should be paid to companies organizing pilgrimage of a group of people. These companies should get permission from the State Committee. The organizers and pilgrims should be identified. Hundreds of people are taken to foreign countries by some groups under the pretext of pilgrimage. Some even act against the interests of Azerbaijan in foreign countries. We are investigating these cases. We made proposals to the organizations in this regard,” he said.
Gurbanli added that the state does not intend impose any ban on the visit to Karbala.