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Wednesday, 28 February, 2001, 18:47 GMT
Pilgrims converge on Mecca

Up to two million Muslim pilgrims are converging on the Saudi Arabian city of Mecca for the annual pilgrimage, known as the Hajj.

The Saudi authorities say a record number -- one and a half million -- have come from abroad, with many rushing to beat Wednesday night's Saudi government deadline to arrive in the country.

The Koran says it's the duty of every able-bodied Muslim who can afford it to make the Hajj pilgrimage at least once. The five-day ritual begins on Saturday.

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