- Title: SAUDI ARABIA: Muslims arrive at Mount Arafat on first day of the haj pilgrimage
- Date: 9th January 2006
- Summary: (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) ASHRAF YOUSSEF FROM EGYPT SAYING: "The day of Mount Arafat will, God willing, be the happiest day for Muslims because God tells his angel: 'Bear witness that my children have come to me and that I have forgiven them."
- Embargoed: 24th January 2006 12:00
- Location: Saudi Arabia
- Country: Saudi Arabia
- Topics: Religion
- Reuters ID: LVADBLR1J7T4HOJ5EL6851KJSXZW
- Story Text: Muslim pilgrims headed to Mount Arafat as part of the Haj pilgrimage rituals on Monday (January 9) -- the climax of the pilgrimage where muslims will retrace the footsteps of Islam's Prophet Mohammad.
Moving in cars, vans and on foot, a mass of white-robed pilgrims travelled towards the mount in what will be the most important day of the pilgrimage. Here, they will spend the day where Prophet Mohammad gave his farewell sermon 14 centuries ago, before moving back to Mena for the pillar-stoning rites on Tuesday (January 10), the beginning of the Eid al-Adha holiday, or known as 'feast of the
Over two million Muslims arrived at the tented city of Mena on Sunday (January 8), the first day of a haj pilgrimage marred by the deaths of 76 people in the collapse of a pilgrim hostel.
Saudi Arabia has deployed a record 60,000 security men to try to avoid deadly stampedes or attacks by Islamist militants fighting the U.S.-allied Saudi royals. Officials have also taken measures to prevent the spread of bird flu.
Many pilgrims prayed for the souls of those who died in the hostel collapse and some said they considered the victims to have died as martyrs.
Saudi authorities were taken by surprise when the pilgrim hostel which was only 30 years old collapsed during the midday bustle of a narrow market street in Mecca on Thursday, eliciting a flurry of rare criticism in the Saudi media.
Every able-bodied adult Muslim who can afford the trip must perform haj, one of the five pillars of Islam, once in his or her lifetime.
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