- Title: SAUDI ARABIA: AMERICAN PILGRIMS ARRIVE FOR HAJ/ LATEST.
- Date: 18th February 2002
- Summary: (W5) MECCA, SAUDI ARABIA (FEBRUARY 17, 2002) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL) 1. LV: WIDE VIEW MECCA GRAND MOSQUE WITH HOLY KA'BA IN THE MIDDLE 0.06 2. LV: PILGRIMS WALKING AROUND KA'BA 0.12 3. MV/MCU: VARIOUS AMERICAN PILGRIM WOMAN, MARIAM FARAJ, TALKING TO HER TRAVEL AGENT (2 SHOTS) 0.22 4. MCU: (SOUNDBITE) (English) AMERICAN PILGRIM MARIAM FARAJ, SAYING: "I am very proud to be a Muslim. I am very proud to be around these people because like I said they are the most wonderful people you can ever know." 0.32 5. GV/PAN: WIDE VIEW CROWD OF PEOPLE WALKING 0.41 6. MV: AMERICAN COUPLE, ORIGINALLY FROM SOUTH AFRICA, IMTIAZ TAR AND HIS WIFE NAZMIRA, WALKING TOWARDS THE MECCA GRAND MOSQUE 0.48 7. MCU: (SOUNDBITE) (English) AMERICAN PILGRIM NAZMIRA TAR, SAYING: "We have been victimised twice. As an American we've been victimised because our country was attacked on September 11 and we did have friends in the World Trade Center that were killed that day. But then again as a Muslim we've also been victimised because now our religion has been attacked." 1.07 8. GV: VARIOUS PILGRIMS WALKING AROUND HOLY KA'BA 1.12 9. LV/GV: WIDE VIEW OF THE GRAND MOSQUE AND PILGRIMS (3 SHOTS) 1.27 (W5) JEDDAH, SAUDI ARABIA (FEBRUARY 16, 2002) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL) 10. GV/MV: VARIOUS MUSLIM PILGRIMS ABOARD PLANE SINGING HAJ SLOGANS (2 SHOTS) 1.44 11. GV: PILGRIMS AT KING ABDUL AZIZ AIRPORT/ FLAGS OF DIFFERENT ISLAMIC COUNTRIES 1.47 12. MV/CU: TWO MUSLIM WOMEN PRAYING AT AIRPORT/ CU WOMAN PRAYING (2 SHOTS) 1.57 14. GV/MV: VARIOUS PILGRIMS FROM AFGHANISTAN, WHO NOW LIVE IN IRAN, AT AIRPORT (3 SHOTS) 2.10 15. GV/MV/CU: SAUDI POLICE AT PASSPORT CONTROL/ WOMAN PRESENTING PASSPORT FOR INSPECTION/ POLICEMAN CHECKING PASSPORT OF WOMAN (4 SHOTS) 2.30 (W5) MECCA, SAUDI ARABIA (FEBRUARY 16, 2002) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL) 16. GV: SAUDI INTERIOR MINISTER PRINCE NAYEF BEN ABDUL AZIZ AT NEWS CONFERENCE 2.35 17. MV: SAUDI SECURITY 2.40 18. MCU: (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) PRINCE NAYEF BEN ABDUL AZIZ, SAYING: "We are fully ready to firmly confront any (political) incident, with wisdom and strength, we will deal with such things." 3.02 19. GV/MV: VARIOUS OF ANTI RIOT SAUDI FORCES AT MILITARY PARADE (3 SHOTS) 3.23 Initials Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
- Embargoed: 5th March 2002 12:00
- Location: MECCA, JEDDAH, SAUDI ARABIA
- Country: Saudi Arabia
- Reuters ID: LVACG22WI5IHYNBYLE49TO3XNT25
- Story Text: American converts to Islam who have joined pilgrims in
Mecca say the backlash against Muslims following the September
11 attacks in the United States has failed to shake their
faith. Pilgrims from all over the world have until Sunday
(February 17) to arrive in Saudi Arabia to make the journey to
Mecca. Officials in the kingdom have have vowed to deal firmly
with any political manifestations that may arise during the
annual Haj pilgrimage.
More than a million Muslims flock to Saudi Arabia
every year for the Haj pilgrimage, which Islamic scriptures
urge every able-bodied adult Muslim who can afford it to
perform at least once.
One such pilgrim is New Yorker Mariam Faraj, an American
who converted to Islam in 1994 after hearing a Muslim call to
prayer for the first time while on a trip to Cairo.
She said she was horrified by the September 11 attacks on
the United States and described how friends and neighbours
shunned her family after the hijack attacks were blamed on
Islamist militants. However she has remained determined to
uphold her faith
"I am very proud to be a Muslim. I am very proud to be
around these people because like I said they are the most
wonderful people you can ever know," she said.
Faraj who was born in Italy is performing the pilgrimage
for the second time in four years.
Her beliefs were echoed by other pilgrims who made the
journey from the United States to Saudi Arabia.
South African-born couple Imtiaz and Nazmira Tar, from Los
Angeles, said the attacks had made them speak out for Islam
among Americans and that in turn had intensified their faith.
Nazmira said Muslim Americans had suffered a double blow
on September 11.
"As an American we've been victimised because our country
was attacked on September 11 and we did have friends in the
World Trade Center that were killed that day," she said.
"But then again as a Muslim we've also been victimised
because now our religion has been attacked. That in a way made
us double victims," added Nazmira.
Her husband said that positive remarks by President George
W. Bush on Islam had helped to ease some of the strains
American Muslims have suffered from in the past five months.
More than two million pilgrims from 160 countries are
expected to perform the five-day ritual beginning on Wednesday
Pilgrims arriving at Jeddah's international airport under
tight security on Saturday (February 16) appeared excited
about embarking on the journey to Mecca.
Saudi Interior Minister Prince Nayef said the authorities
were confident the haj pilgrims would shun politics and focus
on religion despite the September 11 attacks and Washington's
subsequent 'war on terrorism'.
"We are fully ready to firmly confront any (political)
incident," Nayef told a news conference in the holy city of
Mecca on Saturday night (February 16).
The pilgrimage season has in the past witnessed a
spillover of political tensions.
In 1987, 402 people, mostly Iranians, died in clashes with
Saudi security forces at an anti-U.S. rally in Mecca. Iran
then boycotted the haj for three years.
Prince Nayef played down fears that Iranian pilgrims, who
have organised peaceful anti-U.S. rallies inside their
compound in recent years, would do anything to stir up
trouble, saying Iran has shown a high degree of understanding
during the recent pilgrimage seasons.
Muslim anger at the United States for its perceived
backing of Israel has been fuelled in recent months by the
backlash in the United States and other Western countries
against Muslims and Arabs after the September 11 attacks on
Washington and New York.
The United States says the suicide hijack attacks that
killed around 3,000 people were carried out by 19 Arab
followers of Saudi-born dissident Osama bin Laden, 15 of whom
were Saudi nationals.
Saudi Arabia has deployed around 2,000 police and troops
and 1,500 monitoring cameras in Mecca and surrounding
religious sites to oversee security and maintain order,
Haj is the fifth pillar of Islam. It must be performed
once a lifetime by every able-bodied Muslim who has the
financial means. Muslims believe those who perform it with a
sincere heart will become as pure as the day they were born.
Saudi Arabia is the birthplace of Islam and home to its
two holiest shrines, the Grand Mosque in Mecca and the
Prophet's Mosque in Medina.
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