[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Languages
Last Updated: Saturday, 30 December 2006, 16:07 GMT
Hajj pilgrims 'stone the devil'
Pilgrims at Mina stone the devil
Millions of pilgrims took part in the ritual
Millions of Muslim pilgrims performing the Hajj in Saudi Arabia have thrown stones at three pillars representing the devil, as part of a ritual.

New security measures have been added in an effort to control the movement of pilgrims and prevent stampedes that have killed hundreds in the past.

Saturday's ritual coincides with the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha. The Hajj ends on Monday.

Muslims are obliged to undertake the pilgrimage at least once, if able.

An estimated 30,000 Saudi police and security forces have been deployed to marshal the crowds at this year's Hajj.

On Saturday, pilgrims passed the three pillars in Mina, throwing stones at them.

The pillars stand at the spot where the devil is believed to have appeared before Abraham.

Security measures

On Thursday, pilgrims from more than 70 countries made the short journey from Mecca to the tented city of Mina five km (three miles) away.

One of three stones representing the devil at Mina, near Mecca
One of three huge stones representing the devil at Mina

Mina houses the pilgrims as they perform most of the rituals of Hajj, marking the re-enactment of the trials of Abraham.

On Friday, pilgrims took part in a prayer ceremony on Mount Arafat - one of the main events in the annual pilgrimage to Mecca.

The ritual formed the spiritual climax of the Hajj.

Before the pilgrims complete the Hajj they must walk seven times round the Kaaba, a cube-like building in the centre of the city's Great Mosque, in an anti-clockwise direction.

HAJJ DISASTERS
2006: 345 die in a crush during a stone-throwing ritual
2004: 251 trampled to death in stampede
2003: 14 are crushed to death
2001: 35 die in stampede
1998: At least 118 trampled to death
1997: 343 pilgrims die and 1,500 injured in fire
1994: 270 killed in stampede
1990: 1,426 pilgrims killed in tunnel leading to holy sites
1987: 400 die as Saudi authorities confront pro-Iranian demonstration

The Saudi authorities have imposed a strict quota system to try to keep the number of foreign visitors to a manageable level.

At the last Hajj, at least 345 pilgrims died in a crush during the stone-throwing ritual of the pilgrimage.

The ritual has seen many lethal stampedes, but the number of dead in January was the highest in 16 years.

Pilgrims at the current Hajj are expected to take part in the ritual on Saturday.





SEE ALSO
Hundreds killed in Hajj stampede
12 Jan 06 |  Middle East
New bridge planned at Hajj site
17 Jan 06 |  Middle East



FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

PRODUCTS & SERVICES

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific