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Hajj Pilgrims Stone the Pillars of Satan | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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MINA, Saudi Arabia (AFP) -More than two million Muslim pilgrims in Saudi Arabia have continued their stoning of pillars representing Satan in one of the high points, but also one of the most risky, of the annual hajj.

Official figures put the number of pilgrims in the kingdom at 2,378,636, including 1,654,407 from abroad on Sunday.

The ritual of stoning the “Jamarat”, which began on Saturday, is the final and potentially the most dangerous ceremony in the hajj. Previous years have been marked by stampedes that killed hundreds of the faithful, including 251 in 2004.

Stoning the pillars of Satan will continue until Tuesday.

On Saturday, the first day of Eid al-Adha, the Feast of the Sacrifice, the pilgrims sacrificed sheep to recall Abraham’s ordeal when asked by God to sacrifice his son.

The Jamarat, three 25-metre (80-feet) high concrete blocks, are stoned by pilgrims from two levels. They throw seven pebbles at each block, which are easier to hit than the pillars the blocks replaced in 2004.

The Saudi government spent 28 million dollars in 2005 to modernise the site in a bid to prevent more stampedes.

The pilgrimage is one of the five pillars of Islam which every Muslim must undertake once in a lifetime if they have the means.