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Mideast

Pilgrimage to Mecca

Muslims begin the four-day hajj celebration that draws around 2.5 million worshippers each year to Mecca, Saudi Arabia.

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This aerial image made from a helicopter shows thousands of tents housing Muslim pilgrims crowded together in Mina, during the annual Hajj in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2010. The annual Islamic pilgrimage draws 2.5 million visitors each year, making it the largest yearly gathering of people in the world.(AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)
Hassan Ammar / AP
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Image: An aerial picture shows thousands of ten

An aerial picture shows thousands of tents housing Muslim pilgrims crowded together in Mina, near the holy city of Mecca, on November 17, 2010 as more than two million pilgrims launched into the final rituals of the hajj ahead of their massive exodus from Islam's holiest city. AFP PHOTO/MUSTAFA OZER (Photo credit should read MUSTAFA OZER/AFP/Getty Images)
Mustafa Ozer / AFP
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Image: Annual Hajj Pilgrimage in the holy Islamic places in Saudi Arabia

epa02453096 A Saudi police official monitors Muslim pilgrims on screens at a security center in the tent city of Mina, Saudi Arabia, 17 November 2010. Around three million Muslim pilgrims from across the world are on their way to the two holy cities of Mecca and Mina for this year's Hajj. EPA/YAHYA ARHAB EPA/YAHYA ARHAB
Yahya Arhab / EPA
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Image: Muslim pilgrims leave from the Grand Mos

Muslim pilgrims leave from the Grand Mosque after they perform the final walk around the Kaaba (Tawaf al-Wadaa) in the Saudi holy city of Mecca on November 16, 2010, as more than two million Muslim pilgrims launched into the final rituals of the hajj ahead of their massive exodus from Islam's holiest city. AFP PHOTO/MUSTAFA OZER (Photo credit should read MUSTAFA OZER/AFP/Getty Images)
Mustafa Ozer / AFP
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Image: Muslim pilgrims head to perform the 'Jam

Muslim pilgrims head to perform the 'Jamarat' ritual, the symbolic stoning of Satan, in Mina near the holy city of Mecca on November 16, 2010 on the third day of the hajj, as Muslims worldwide marked the Eid al-Adha festival with animal sacrifices. AFP PHOTO / MUSTAFA OZER (Photo credit should read MUSTAFA OZER/AFP/Getty Images)
Mustafa Ozer / AFP
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Image: Muslim pilgrims shave their heads after

Muslim pilgrims shave their heads after performing the "Jamarat" ritual, the symbolic stoning of Satan, in Mina near the holy city of Mecca on November 16, 2010 on the third day of the hajj, as Muslims worldwide marked the Eid al-Adha festival with animal sacrifices. AFP PHOTO / MUSTAFA OZER (Photo credit should read MUSTAFA OZER/AFP/Getty Images)
Mustafa Ozer / AFP
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Image: Muslim pilgrims gather to cast stones at pillars symbolising Satan in Mena

Muslim pilgrims gather to cast stones at pillars symbolising Satan, which is part of a pilgrimage rite, in Mena November 16, 2010. Millions flock to Mecca in Saudi Arabia for the annual haj pilgrimage, a duty for every able-bodied Muslim who can afford it. Muslims around the world celebrate Eid al-Adha to mark the end of the haj by slaughtering sheep, goats, cows and camels to commemorate Prophet Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son Ismail on God's command. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem (SAUDI ARABIA - Tags: RELIGION SOCIETY IMAGES OF THE DAY)
Mohammed Salem / X01571
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Image: Muslim pilgrims attend the day of Arafat

epa02449077 As a Muslim female pilgrim (L) reads the holy book of Quran, other male pilgrims pray on Gebel Rahmah (Mount of Mercy) in Arafat, during the most important ritual of the annual pilgrimage of Muslims to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, on 15 November 2010. The Mount of Mercy is where the Prophet Mohammed gave a sermon summorizing the message of Islam which came near the end of his mission to deliver the words of God (Allah). Over three million pilgrims are expected to congregate in the Plains of Arafat. EPA/YAHYA ARHAB
Yahya Arhab / EPA
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Image: Muslim pilgrims gather on Mount Arafat,

Muslim pilgrims gather on Mount Arafat, southeast of the Saudi holy city of Mecca, on November 15, 2010. Pilgrims flooded into the Arafat plain from Mecca and Mina before dawn for a key ritual around the site where prophet Mohammed gave his farewell sermon on this day in the Islamic calendar 1,378 years ago. Pilgrims spend the day at Arafat in reflection and reading the Koran or Mulsim holy book. AFP PHOTO / MUSTAFA OZER (Photo credit should read MUSTAFA OZER/AFP/Getty Images)
Mustafa Ozer / AFP
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Image: Muslim pilgrims attend the day of Arafat

epa02449242 Muslim pilgrims pray at Namirah Mosque in Arafat during the most important ritual of the annual pilgrimage of Muslims to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, 15 November 2010. Over three million pilgrims are expected to congregate in the Plains of Arafat. EPA/YAHYA ARHAB
Yahya Arhab / EPA
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Image: Muslim pilgrims leave an autograph at Mo

Muslim pilgrims leave an autograph at Mount Arafat, southeast of the Saudi holy city of Mecca, on November 15, 2010. Pilgrims flooded into the Arafat plain from Mecca and Mina before dawn for a key ritual around the site where prophet Mohammed gave his farewell sermon on this day in the Islamic calendar 1,378 years ago. Pilgrims spend the day at Arafat in reflection and reading the Koran or Mulsim holy book. AFP PHOTO / MUSTAFA OZER /TOPSHOTS (Photo credit should read MUSTAFA OZER/AFP/Getty Images)
Mustafa Ozer / AFP
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Image: Muslim pilgrims pray at Mount Arafat, so

Muslim pilgrims pray at Mount Arafat, southeast of the Saudi holy city of Mecca, on November 15, 2010. Pilgrims flooded into the Arafat plain from Mecca and Mina before dawn for a key ritual around the site where prophet Mohammed gave his farewell sermon on this day in the Islamic calendar 1,378 years ago. Pilgrims spend the day at Arafat in reflection and reading the Koran or Mulsim holy book. AFP PHOTO / MUSTAFA OZER (Photo credit should read MUSTAFA OZER/AFP/Getty Images)
Mustafa Ozer / AFP
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Image: A Muslim pilgrim walks with his son alon

A Muslim pilgrim walks with his son along the road in the Mina valley five kilometres (three miles) east of the Saudi Arabian holy city of Mecca, on November 14, 2010, as some 2.5 million Muslim pilgrims descend on the holy city for the annual Hajj pilgrimage. The passage to Mina marks the official launch of the hajj on the eighth day of the Muslim calendar month of Dhul Hijja. The day is known as Tarwiah (Watering) as pilgrims in the past stopped at Mina to water their animals and stock up for the trip to Mount Arafat. AFP PHOTO / MUSTAFA OZER (Photo credit should read MUSTAFA OZER/AFP/Getty Images)
Mustafa Ozer / AFP
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Image: Muslim pilgrims take a rest after the noon prayer

Muslim pilgrims take a rest after the noon prayer in Mina near Mecca, Saudi Arabia, Sunday, Nov. 14, 2010. The annual Islamic pilgrimage draws 2.5 million visitors each year, making it the largest yearly gathering of people in the world.(AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)
Hassan Ammar / AP
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Image: Muslim pilgrims rest in front of a wall mural depicting the Kaaba in the Grand Mosque upon their arrival to Mena, near Mecca during the annual haj pilgrimage

Muslim pilgrims rest in front of a wall mural depicting the Kaaba in the Grand Mosque upon their arrival to Mena, near Mecca during the annual haj pilgrimage November 14, 2010. The haj is one of the world's biggest displays of mass religious devotion and a duty for Muslims who can perform it. The words on the mural read: "Complete the haj and umrah for god". REUTERS/Mohammed Salem (SAUDI ARABIA - Tags: RELIGION SOCIETY IMAGES OF THE DAY)
Mohammed Salem / X01571
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Image: Sheep are fed at a livestock market in Kabul

Sheep are fed at a livestock market in Kabul November 14, 2010. Muslims across the world are preparing to celebrate the annual festival of Eid al-Adha or the Festival of Sacrifice, which marks the end of the haj pilgrimage to Mecca by hundreds of millions of Muslims, with the slaughter of goats, sheep and cattle in commemoration of the Prophet Abraham's readiness to sacrifice his son to show obedience to Allah. REUTERS/Ahmad Masood (AFGHANISTAN - Tags: ANIMALS RELIGION)
Ahmad Masood / X90061
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Image: Muslim pilgrims look at a map as they ar

Muslim pilgrims look at a map as they arrive at the Mina valley five kilometres (three miles) east of the Saudi Arabian holy city of Mecca, on November 14, 2010, as some 2.5 million Muslim pilgrims descend on the holy city for the annual Hajj pilgrimage. The passage to Mina marks the official launch of the hajj on the eighth day of the Muslim calendar month of Dhul Hijja. The day is known as Tarwiah (Watering) as pilgrims in the past stopped at Mina to water their animals and stock up for the trip to Mount Arafat. AFP PHOTO / AMER HILABI (Photo credit should read AMER HILABI/AFP/Getty Images)
Amer Hilabi / AFP
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Image: Muslim pilgrims sit atop a vehicle on their way to Mena during the annual haj pilgrimage

Muslim pilgrims sit atop a vehicle on their way to Mena, near Mecca during the annual haj pilgrimage November 14, 2010. The haj is one of the world's biggest displays of mass religious devotion and a duty for Muslims who can perform it. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem (SAUDI ARABIA - Tags: RELIGION SOCIETY TRANSPORT)
Mohammed Salem / X01571
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Image: A pilgrim reads the Muslim holy book or

A pilgrim reads the Muslim holy book or Koran in the Mina valley five kilometres (three miles) east of the Saudi Arabian holy city of Mecca, on November 14, 2010, as some 2.5 million Muslim pilgrims descend on the holy city for the annual Hajj pilgrimage. The passage to Mina marks the official launch of the hajj on the eighth day of the Muslim calendar month of Dhul Hijja. The day is known as Tarwiah (Watering) as pilgrims in the past stopped at Mina to water their animals and stock up for the trip to Mount Arafat. AFP PHOTO / MUSTAFA OZER (Photo credit should read MUSTAFA OZER/AFP/Getty Images)
Mustafa Ozer / AFP
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Image: Muslim pilgrims walk on top of Noor moun

Muslim pilgrims walk on top of Noor mountain where the Hiraa cave is located overlooking Mecca late on November 13, 2010, as some 2.5 million Muslim pilgrims descend on the holy city for the annual hajj or pilgrimage. According to tradition, Islam's Prophet Mohammed received his first message to preach Islam while praying in the cave. AFP PHOTO / MUSTAFA OZER (Photo credit should read MUSTAFA OZER/AFP/Getty Images)
Mustafa Ozer / AFP
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Image: Two Muslim pilgrims pray on the Ghar Heraa mountain in Mecca

epa02446087 Two Muslim pilgrims pray on the Ghar Heraa mountain in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, on 13 November 2010. Around three million Muslim pilgrims are expected to attend the annual Hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca). During the Hajj, which starts on 14 November, pilgrims dress in simple white robes, marking ihram, or ritual purity. Hajj, the fifth pillar of Islam, should be carried out at least once in a lifetime, if the person can afford it. The pilgrimage to Mecca occurs from the 8th to 12th day of the last month of the Islamic calendar. EPA/YAHYA ARHAB
Yahya Arhab / EPA
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Tens of thousands of Muslim pilgrims moving around the Kaaba, the black cube seen at center, inside the Grand Mosque, during the annual Hajj in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, Saturday, Nov. 13, 2010. The annual Islamic pilgrimage draws 2.5 million visitors each year, making it the largest yearly gathering of people in the world.(AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)
Hassan Ammar / AP
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Muslim pilgrims reach out to touch the door of the Kaaba inside the Grand Mosque during the annual Hajj in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, Saturday, Nov. 13, 2010. The annual Islamic pilgrimage draws 2.5 million visitors each year, making it the largest yearly gathering of people in the world.(AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)
Hassan Ammar / AP
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Image: A Muslim pilgrim looks at Mecca from the

A Muslim pilgrim looks at Mecca from the top of Noor mountain where the Hiraa cave is located late on November 13, 2010, as some 2.5 million Muslim pilgrims descend on the holy city for the annual hajj or pilgrimage. According to tradition, Islam's Prophet Mohammed received his first message to preach Islam while praying in the cave. AFP PHOTO / MUSTAFA OZER (Photo credit should read MUSTAFA OZER/AFP/Getty Images)
Mustafa Ozer / AFP
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Image: The Grand Mosque is seen from the top of

The Grand Mosque is seen from the top of Noor mountain overlooking Mecca late on November 12, 2010, as some 2.5 million Muslim pilgrims descend on the holy city for the annual hajj or pilgrimage. AFP PHOTO / MUSTAFA OZER (Photo credit should read MUSTAFA OZER/AFP/Getty Images)
Mustafa Ozer / AFP
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Image: A man stands watching the newly-opened H

A man stands watching the newly-opened Holy Sites metro light rail in the western Saudi city of Mecca on November 2, 2010. The Chinese-built monorail project, will link Mecca with the holy sites of Mina, Arafat and Muzdalifah, and will operate for the first time during the Hajj this month at 35 percent capacity to ferry Saudi nationals who will take part in the upcoming annual Muslim pilgrimage. AFP PHOTO/AMER HILABI (Photo credit should read AMER HILABI/AFP/Getty Images)
Amer Hilabi / AFP
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