Riyadh (AsiaNews / Agencies) - This year's pilgrimage to Mecca (the Hajj), which every Muslim must make at least once in his life, ahs been deemed "a success". The numbers speak for themselves 3.16 million "registered" pilgrims, in addition to 1.14 million "unregistered". To oversee the smooth running of events, 120 thousand security agents were mobilized. Again, in the last four days 362,740 people visited health facilities. And one million sheep and 10 thousand cows and camels were sacrificed. This year their meat, traditionally distributed to the poor of the holy cities of the Islamic nations, will also go to Syrian refugees in Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon
At the end of the pilgrimage, authorities and media are taking stock of an event that arouses concern in Saudi authorities, given the incidents that occurred in the past, with political motivations. The bloodiest episodes date to the 1987 pilgrimage which saw the death in Mecca of 400 Iranians in clashes following Khomeini demonstration.
There were also attempts this year to hold political demonstration: Hundreds of Syrians marched in Mina, to denounce the misdeeds of President Bashar al-Assad and ask for his expulsion. The protest was immediately blocked by the Saudi authorities, politically close to the rebels, while protesters hoisted flags and banners.
There were also those who did not protest, but expressed "disappointment" at the high cost of the pilgrimage or because the companies that organize trips do not follow through with spot support, but leave them to themselves. The governor of Mecca, Prince Khaled Al-Faisal announced "actions" against a railway company for delays in service to the faithful.
Prince Khaled during a press conference presenting the outcome of the Haj, gave a politico-religious value to the event, "the pilgrims - he said - all wear the same kind of dress, live in the same places, move in the same areas and perform the same rites. They give a positive message to the world that the unity of Muslims is not a danger, but is good for the world. "