Striking photos depict socially troubled Haj


Muslim worshipers celebrated the first ritual of a historic hajj on Wednesday, in which about 1,000 pilgrims followed a “security bubble” and took social remedial measures over fears of coronoviruses.

While Hajj usually has a large crowd gathering around the holiest shrine of Islam, this year’s annual pilgrims focus on circling the Kaaba as well as marked enclosures on the ground. Several legs separated the mask-clad pilgrims, who walked at a measured pace.

Tawaf al-Qudum, a group rite of passage in the holy city of Mecca, was unlike anything Muslims had seen in processions on their TV screens. On average, more than two million pilgrims attend the Hajj, considered one of the five pillars of Islam.

International pilgrims are barred from this year’s Hajj. Those selected to participate are foreign residents of Saudi Arabia and Saudi citizens between the ages of 20 and 50 years old.

“We are trying to implement the concept of a security bubble where every pilgrim will have an environment around it that is as free and safe as possible from any kind of threats, so whatever the Hajjis need is their personal safety. The devices are provided free of charge to their hygiene products, ”Assistant Deputy Minister for Preventive Health in the Saudi Ministry of Health, Dr. Abdullah Asiri told CNN in an interview on Wednesday.

At the Grand Mosque, the Gap separated the prayer mats of the worshipers, while the ritual is usually performed shoulder-to-shoulder with other believers. According to Saudi authorities, all these pilgrims have already gone through a rigorous quarantine and health check-up process.

“There are certain rituals of Haj which we cannot really separate [the pilgrims] Because they have to stay in one place at a time, we had to prepare these places in such a way that social distance can be maintained and personal safety equipment is also available for these places, ”Dr. Asiri said.

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