Relatives of the pilgrims around the world who have made this year’s pilgrimage, are still struggling to find out whether their loved ones were among the dead or injured. Those dead came from all different walks of life and from different countries around the globe. Street 204, where the crush occurred, is one of two main arteries leading through the camp at Mina to Jamarat, the site where pilgrims ritually stone the devil by hurling pebbles at three large pillars. In 2006, at least 346 pilgrims died in a stampede at Jamarat.
ROUGH CUT - NO REPORTER NARRATION EDITORS PLEASE NOTE: EDIT CONTAINS CONVERTED 4:3 MATERIAL Millions of Muslim pilgrims from around the world continued to perform haj in Mecca on Tuesday. Among the rites they must perform during the three-day pilgrimage, hajis must walk seven times around the Kaaba, the cube-shaped building at the centre of the Grand Mosque, pray at nearby Mount Arafat and ritually stone the devil by hurling pebbles at three walls. This year, haj has come at a time of sweeping change in the Middle East, where a wave of uprisings has toppled veteran leaders in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya. But the march for change halts outside the gates of Mecca, where pilgrims say they leave politics behind. Home to Islam's holiest sites, Saudi Arabia regards itself as the guardian of Islam and assumes the responsibility of maintaining a peaceful haj season when Muslims from various sects gather at the same place and time. Around 2.5 million to 3 million pilgrims are believed to be in Mecca to perform haj, a duty that all able-bodied Muslims must undertake at least once in their lifetime.
The stoning of the Devil ritual reenacts part of the story of Abraham and his sacrifice of his son. God told Abraham in a dream to slaughter his only son--Ishmael in Muslim belief--as a sacrifice to God. Abraham consulted Ishmael about this, and Ishamel told his father to comply immediately. On his way to sacrifice his son, the Devil appeared three times to Abraham to dissuade him from fulfilling his duty. Abraham stoned the Devil with seven stones each time he appeared to him.