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Muslims in Calgary react to hundreds killed in stampede at hajj in Saudi Arabia

 

CALGARY – Muslims in Calgary prayed Thursday for more than 700 pilgrims killed during a stampede on the outskirts of the holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia.

It’s the deadliest tragedy to strike the annual hajj pilgrimage in more than two decades.

At least 863 pilgrims were injured in the crush, said the Saudi civil defence directorate, which provided the death toll.

Muslims around the world marked the start of the Eid al-Adha holiday, including in Calgary.

Hundreds of Muslims gathered at Calgary’s Baitun Nur Mosque.

Abdul Chaudhary attended the celebration in Calgary, and said he made the trip to Mecca four years ago for the annual pilgrimage.  He said a company from Saudi Arabia flew him to the site, but kept him and others from Canada away from large crowds.

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“The people who go from North America, they have a separate place,” Chaudhary said.  “A nice place, not too many people there.”

Chaudhary remembers seeing hundreds of thousands of people.

“You don’t walk by yourself, you walk with people,” said Chaudhary. “If someone fell, certainly he is gone.”

“It’s sad, very sad.  I can pray for them.”

There are roughly two million Muslims taking part in the pilgrimage. Many of the victims were crushed and trampled to death as they were on their way to perform a symbolic stoning of the devil by throwing pebbles against three stone columns in Mina, 5 kilometres from Mecca.

With files from The Associated Press

 

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