Annual Islamic pilgrimage takes place

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Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Saudi Arabia — Over two million Muslims have today gathered in the Saudi capital of Meccah for the annual pilgrimage, or hajj. The climbing of the 18 km west of mecca Mount Arafat is the high point of the visit.

The Saudi government, however, is taking no chances and has arranged for over 50,000 security officials to deter would-be terrorists and to prevent stampedes.

More than 20,000 buses will be carrying pilgrims to where the prophet Muhammad supposedly gave his last sermon. The pilgrims gather in the Namera mosque, where they stand for a whole day, dressed in their white garments, to repent their sins.

All able-bodied Muslims are expected to complete the ceremony at least once in their lives.