1.5 million Muslims begin Hajj in Mecca

Grand Mosque in MeccaGeneral view of the Grand Mosque in Mecca, Saudi Arabia September 9, 2016. REUTERS/Ahmed Jadallah

1.5 million pilgrims from around the world are starting with the annual Hajj pilgrimage in Mecca on Saturday .

This year, Saudi authorities introduced a series of measures to prevent a repeat of last year’s tragedy where 2,300 people were trampled to death.

After a series of rituals in Mecca this week, pilgrims will travel in buses, trains and on foot to Mina on Saturday, about five kilometers east of Mecca.

They follow in the footsteps of the Prophet Muhammad, who did the same rituals 1400 years ago. From Mina the journey continues to Arafat Mountain.

Before this year’s big celebration in Mecca, security people and authorities have had exercises to control masses of people in the area. Health professionals will also be well prepared before the five-day Hajj, as the pilgrimage is called.

Reuters wrote that the government this year is using modern electronics to keep track of pilgrims and have control over what happens. New surveillance cameras should be up, and the religious guests also receive electronic bracelets.

The goal is to detect problems in time, and be able to control the crowd by having electronically controlled roads that can be opened and closed.

The tragedy of 2015 is far from the first time that people were trampled to death in Mecca. As a rule, things go wrong when the so-called jamarat starts Monday. Here all pilgrims throw rocks. It symbolizes throwing stones at the devil.


Source: NTB scanpix / Norway Today