(Mecca) Tens of thousands of Muslim faithful concluded Sunday evening the great pilgrimage to Mecca marked this year by very strict health security measures due to the COVID pandemic – 19.
Only tens of thousands of faithful, residing in Saudi Arabia, made this great pilgrimage called the hajj, one of the five pillars of Islam, against some 2.5 million participants from all over the world in 2019.
The pilgrims dedicated Sunday the fifth and last day of the hajj to the stoning of the stelae representing Satan in Mina. For this ritual, the authorities provided the pilgrims with sterilized stones for the first time. In the past, they used pebbles which they collected themselves.
The pilgrims then went to Mecca, the holiest city of Islam, to carry out the “farewell tawaf”, convolutions around the Kaaba, a cubic structure in the heart of the Great Mosque and to which Muslims all over the world go for their prayers.
Saudi Arabia has deployed a major security and health system around religious sites. And the rites, during which the faithful had to wear masks and respect physical distancing, have sometimes been modified.
The highlight of the hajj, the ascent of Mount Arafat, which took place on Thursday at 19 km east of Mecca, was shortened due to the virus. During this ritual, the faithful ask for the mercy of God.
King Salman on Friday sent his best wishes to Muslims on Eid, stressing that the Saudi authorities had “redoubled their efforts” to protect the faithful.
The kingdom officially registered close to 20 900 cases of infections, including more than 2020 deaths, one of the highest rates raised in the Arab world, and around 240 000 healings.