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Saudi Arabia: Yearly pilgrimage to Mecca begins

Saudi Arabia: Yearly pilgrimage to Mecca begins

Nearly two million Muslims have arrived in Mecca for the yearly pilgrimage which begins this Saturday.

In the big Mosque situated at the esplanade, thousands of Muslims roam or pray permanently dressed in traditional dresses.

“We like praying at the mosque. We are happy, and we really have the courage to pray when we see the holy kabaa,” an Ivorian pilgrim said.

This year, no Iranian pilgrim has been received after the two countries failed to agree.

Thousands of Iranians protested on Thursday following their exclusion by Saudi Arabia.

Pilgrims have been identified with badges to ease the identification process, in case anything happens.

Special umbrellas which help pilgrims not to feel the impact of heat have been distributed.

“May God protect us. But if someone dies, he can be identified with the bracelet. People can call to indicate whether someone is sick or lost. It identifies just like the passport,” a Pakistani pilgrim said.”

Authorities have strengthened police deployment and taken new measures to prevent a repetition of the 2015 tragedy which left about 2.297 people dead among whom were 450 Iranians.

Saudi authorities maintain that about 769 people died during the 2015 incident and the results of the investigation are not yet known.

Pilgrimage which is the fifth pillar of Islam is obligatory for Muslims once in their lifetime on condition that they are physically and financially capable.