12/09/2008, 00.00
SAUDI ARABIA - ISLAM
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Stoning the devil in Mecca. No serious incidents

In Mecca, two and a half million Muslims have carried out the ritual of throwing stones against the three pillars symbolizing evil. The new security measures prevented accidents, which in the past have caused hundreds of deaths and injuries. Yesterday, the faithful from all over the world celebrated the feast of the sacrifice.

Jeddah (AsiaNews/Agencies) - More than two million pilgrims today celebrated in Mina (Mecca) the throwing of stones against the three pillars representing the power of evil. This year, the ritual connected to the pilgrimage to the holy places of Islam, which every Muslim must make at least once in his life, did not cause serious accidents, unlike in the past.

The bridge of Jamarat, where Muslims throw stones against satan, has been in the past a site of disorder and stampedes. in 2006, 362 people were trampled to death by crowds, and over the years there have been various cases of accidents, hotel collapses, and clashes between police and demonstrators in various parts of the holy city. In order to confront the problem of security, Saudi Arabia spent 1.1 billion dollars to demolish the old bridge and build a new one, on four different levels. A religious edict also permitted the throwing of stones beginning in the morning, instead of in the evening as was traditional, distributing the flow of believers throughout the entire day.

Saudi authorities confirm the forecasts: this year, 2.5 million faithful participated in the Hajj. At least 1.72 million of the faithful were foreigners, representing 178 countries.

On December 8, the faithful all over the world celebrated the Eid Al-Adha - feast of the sacrifice - with prayers in the mosques and in open spaces. For the Eid, Muslims offer God the gift of animals to commemorate the sacrifice of Abraham, who was ready to kill his only son in order to demonstrate his submission to God. For the feast, the faithful wear their best clothing, and in the morning they gather at the mosques for common prayer and share their food among friends and family. Some of their offerings are given to the poor: solidarity and friendship are the basis upon which the community is founded, and every good is a gift from God, to be shared with those most in need.

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