Hundreds of thousands ‘stone the devil’ as packed Haj winds down

MINA, Saudi Arabia: Thousands of Muslim pilgrims cast pebbles in the “stoning of the devil” ritual marking the start of the Eidul Azha on Saturday, as a Haj pilgrimage that drew 900,000 visitors began winding down.

Enormous crowds of white-robed worshippers thronged Mina, near Makkah in Saudi Arabia, for the stoning ritual where each threw seven pebbles at three large concrete walls representing Satan.

It is the last major act of the Haj. However, high temperatures and the ongoing Covid pandemic appeared a risk to pilgrims lives.

“I feel I am about to faint, hurry up,” said one woman, asking her companion to splash her face with water. No health or safety incidents were reported.

The pilgrims threw stones that they had collected in nearby Muzdalifah. In 2020 and 2021, when Covid restrictions reduced numbers to tens of thousands, worshippers were handed sanitised pebbles in sealed bags.

The Haj started on Wednesday at the Grand Mosque in Makkah, Islam’s holiest site, before an overnight stay in tents and prayers on Mount Arafat, where the Prophet Mohammad (Peace Be Upon Him) is believed to have delivered his final sermon.

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