Muslims from around the world on Monday returned to the scene of last year’s deadly stampede to perform a stoning ritual near Mecca that is the final major rite of hajj.
Rivers of pilgrims flowed on multiple ramps toward the Jamarat Bridge where the “stoning of the devil” is taking place under high security.
Authorities in Saudi Arabia do not talk about last year’s stampede, which killed hundreds around Jamarat on the first day of the ritual.
Riyadh issued a death toll of 769, although figures compiled from foreign officials in more than 30 countries gave a stampede tally of roughly 2,300.
But a number of safety measures have been taken and pilgrims on Monday expressed no concern.
“There has been a clear improvement,” said Saudi pilgrim Ibrahim Ayed, 40, returning for hajj and the stoning for the first time in a decade.
The stoning ritual coincides with Eid al-Adha, Islam’s feast of sacrifice, which is celebrated by more than 1.5 billion Muslims worldwide.
Sheep are slaughtered and the meat distributed to needy Muslims, symbolizing the prophet Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice Ishmael on the orders of God, who provided a lamb in the boy’s place at the last moment.
The Jamarat ritual, which occurs in Mina at the eastern edge of Mecca, emulates Abraham’s stoning of the devil at three spots in resisting the temptation to disobey God’s order.
On the first of three days of stoning, elevated cameras stationed several meters (yards) apart filmed the pilgrims, most clad in white moving behind colored flags identifying their groups.
The stoning bridge, which resembles a large multi-story car park, was erected in the past decade at a cost of more than $1 billion (900 million euros) and was designed to prevent overcrowding.
Source al nahar ,mtv , lbci