The Pakistani government will rephrase a controversial question listed in application forms for the Hajj pilgrimage deemed "offensive" to the minority Shia community in the country. The question that reads "Are you Shia?" will be rephrased to "Do you require Shia facilities,?" the religious affairs ministry said Friday, according to Pakistani media.
A petition had been filed in a Pakistani court citing discrimination against Shia Muslims in providing facilities for the Hajj pilgrimage. The Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca is a religious obligation for all Muslims and is considered to be one of the five pillars of Islam. The Hajj 2016 is expected to begin in September this year.
The Pakistani government gave an undertaking at the Lahore High Court Friday to amend the question, according to Dawn. Pakistani barrister Syeda Maqsooma Zahra Bokhari, who represented the petitioners, said the "offending question" led to discrimination against the Shia community, according to the report.
Over 143,000 Muslims from Pakistan are expected to perform the Hajj pilgrimage this year, according to Geo News. The Pakistani government will reportedly begin accepting Hajj applications April 4.
On Friday, the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) slashed Hajj fares by up to Rs 4,000 on the order of Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, according to local media.
Last year, hundreds were killed in a stampede that broke out during the Hajj pilgrimage.