JAMARAT, Saudi Arabia (Reuters) – More than two million Muslim pilgrims hurled pebbles at an enormous wall in a symbolic stoning of the devil on Tuesday, the begin of the riskiest half of the annual haj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia the place a whole lot died in a crush three years in the past.
Muslim pilgrims solid stones at a pillar that symbolizes Satan, throughout the annual haj pilgrimage in Mena, Saudi Arabia August 21, 2018. REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra
Clad in white robes signifying a state of purity, women and men from 165 international locations converged on Jamarat to carry out the ritual from a three-storey bridge erected to ease congestion after earlier stampedes.
Under shut supervision from Saudi authorities, the devoted carried umbrellas to dam the blazing solar, with daytime temperatures topping 40 levels Celsius (100 Fahrenheit).
The kingdom stakes its status on its guardianship of Islam’s holiest websites – Mecca and Medina – and organizing the world’s largest annual Muslim gathering.
It has deployed greater than 130,000 safety forces and medics in addition to trendy know-how together with surveillance drones to keep up order.
“The police assistance and the services were all extraordinary. Praise God, I am very happy and God willing our Lord will provide for us again,” stated Jordanian Firas al-Khashani, 33.
Pilgrims are requested to observe fastidiously orchestrated schedules for performing every stage of haj, however with greater than two million contributors, panic is a continuing hazard.
The 2015 crush killed practically 800 individuals, based on Riyadh, when two giant teams of pilgrims arrived collectively at a crossroads on a highway resulting in the stoning website.
Counts by international locations of repatriated our bodies, nonetheless, confirmed greater than 2,000 individuals could have died, greater than 400 of them from Iran, which boycotted haj the following yr. It was the worst catastrophe in at least 1 / 4 century.
Saudi authorities stated at the time that the crush could have been attributable to pilgrims failing to observe crowd management guidelines, and King Salman ordered an investigation however the outcomes have been by no means introduced.
Some 86,000 Iranians are attending this yr amid a diplomatic rift between Tehran and Riyadh, that are locked in a wrestle for regional supremacy. Their dispute was exacerbated by the 2015 crush.
“A BEAUTIFUL FEELING”
More than 2.37 million pilgrims, most of them from overseas, have arrived this yr for the five-day ritual, a spiritual obligation as soon as in a lifetime for each able-bodied Muslim who can afford the journey.
“It is a beautiful feeling,” stated Egyptian Hazem Darweesk, 31. “The beauty of it is in the difficulty of performing it. It brings you closer to God.”
King Salman arrived in Mina, east of Mecca, on Monday night forward of Eid al-Adha, or the feast of sacrifice.
“Our country’s greatest honor is to serve God’s guests,” the 82-year-old monarch tweeted. “On Eid al-Adha, I ask God to complete the pilgrims’ haj and to perpetuate the goodness and peace for our nation and all other countries.”
King Salman and his son and inheritor obvious Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman obtained well-wishers at a palace in Mina on Tuesday.
Saudi authorities have urged pilgrims to put aside politics throughout the haj however violence in the Middle East, together with wars in Syria, Yemen and Libya – and different international hotspots – stay on the minds of many.
Some worshippers criticized Arab leaders for failing to dam President Donald Trump’s resolution to maneuver the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem after he acknowledged the metropolis as Israel’s capital.
Pilgrimage can be the spine of a Saudi plan to increase tourism below a drive to diversify the economic system away from oil. The haj and year-round umrah generate billions of in income from worshippers’ lodging, transport, charges and items.
The authorities intention to extend the quantity of umrah and haj pilgrims to 15 million and 5 million respectively by 2020, and hope to double the umrah quantity once more to 30 million by 2030.
Additional reporting by Reuters TV; Writing by Stephen Kalin; Editing by Andrew Heavens