Muslims begin downsized hajj amid pandemic

Mecca (Saudi Arabia) (AFP) - Mask-clad Muslim pilgrims on Wednesday began the annual hajj, dramatically downsized this year as the Saudi hosts strive to prevent a coronavirus outbreak during the five-day pilgrimage.The hajj, one of the five pillars of Islam and a must for able-bodied Muslims at least once in their lifetime, is usually one of the world's largest religious gatherings.But this year only up to 10,000 people already residing in the kingdom will participate in the ritual, a tiny fraction of the 2.5 million pilgrims from around the world that attended last year.Pilgrims walked into M...


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