Muslim pilgrims descend on Mecca for haj, Saudis warn against politics
Hundreds of thousands of white-clad pilgrims, many gripping umbrellas to ward off Saudi Arabia's blistering summer sun, descended on Mecca this week ahead of the annual haj. Saudi officials asked Muslims to focus on rituals of worship, warning against politicizing the rite as wars rage on in the region and at a time of heightened tensions between Sunni Muslim Saudi Arabia and Shi'ite Muslim adversary Iran. "Haj...is not a place for political conflicts or to raise sectarian slogans that divide Muslims," Abdulrahman al-Sudais, imam of the Grand Mosque of Mecca, told reporters.
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