- Title: SAUDI ARABIA: Muslim pilgrims ritually 'stone the devil' to end haj
- Date: 28th October 2012
- Summary: OFFICER ON TOWER WATCHING PILGRIMS SIGN READING (Arabic and English) MIDDLE JAMARAH VARIOUS OF PILGRIMS CASTING STONES
- Embargoed: 12th November 2012 12:00
- Location: Saudi Arabia
- Country: Saudi Arabia
- Topics: Religion
- Reuters ID: LVAD488EHLXQBSIL056130RG0BZA
- Story Text: Muslims on the haj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia streamed into Mina on Sunday (October 28) at Jamarat Bridge to stone the walls there, used to symbolise the ritual stoning of the devil.
Thousands walked from the temporary accommodation set up at Mina for pilgrims on the annual haj, where more than 3 million Muslim pilgrims are thought to have congregated.
Islam's pilgrimage is one of the faith's so-called five pillars and is a duty for all Muslims once in their lives if they are capable of it.
"It is a feeling of faith and worship. Thank God, who gave us the haj to the end, we have completed the haj to the end and hope we go back home safe," said Aum Shawki, a pilgrim from Egypt.
Wael Abdulmajeed, also from Egypt, said it was a blessing he could go on the haj with his mother.
"I am very, very lucky to achieve my dream to accompany my mother to go to the holy places and to make this pilgrimage a ceremony, and I feel so tired, this year is so crowded but Allah help us to go ahead and for these procedures to be accomplished until now," he told Reuters television.
A Reuters witness said on Sunday that Saudi authorities had quickly dispersed a protest by hundreds of Syrian pilgrims calling for the fall of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and denouncing what they said was international failure to stop bloodshed in Syria.
Protesters held up rebel flags and marched toward the Jamarat Bridge.
No one was hurt when two police vehicles drove slowly in the direction of the protesters with the sirens on as the officers asked the crowd through loudspeakers to leave the area.
The protesters swiftly dispersed and merged with thousands of other pilgrims in the area, the witness said.
Saudi officials made it clear in recent days that they want a politics-free pilgrimage and urged pilgrims to focus on performing the rituals.
This year's haj took place against a backdrop of divisions among Muslims, with Shi'ite Iran and U.S.-allied Sunni countries such as Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar backing opposing sides in Syria's civil war.
In some previous years the haj has been marred by disasters, including stampedes and tent fires in which hundreds were killed.
But the authorities have invested heavily in better infrastructure and there have been no such incidents since 2006.
The haj started on Wednesday (October 24) andon Tuesday (October 30).
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