Tight security for hajj stoning ritual


Gauhar Zahid Malik


Two million Muslims pilgrims from around the world took part Friday in the symbolic stoning of the devil in Saudi Arabia, with tight security measures in place two years after a deadly stampede.
The ritual at the Jamarat Bridge in Mina near Mecca marks the final major rite of the hajj, a five-day pilgrimage which all Muslims must perform at least once if physically and financially able.
Saudi Arabia says it has deployed more than 100,000 security personnel to keep pilgrims safe this year.
The huge crowds took part in the stoning rite under strict surveillance, with police tape guiding the flow of pilgrims, cameras installed everywhere and helicopters hovering overhead.
Traditionally, seven pebbles are thrown at a post representing the devil, emulating the actions of Abraham.
Since 2004, it has been replaced by walls to accommodate the rising numbers of pilgrims.
Security forces misted pilgrims with water as they made their way to the Jamarat Bridge under the hot sun.
By 8:00 am, pilgrims were already reaching for their umbrellas as temperatures rose above 30 degrees Celsius (86 Fahrenheit).
The stoning ritual marks the first day of the Eid al-Adha feast, or the feast of sacrifice, which commemorates the prophet Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son.

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