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‘Unbelievable feeling’: Abroad Hajj pilgrims rejoice after 2-year Covid absence

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MEKKAH, SAUDI ARABIA: Of the a whole bunch of 1000’s of Muslims arriving right here in Mekkah this week for the annual Hajj pilgrimage, maybe none had a extra arduous journey than Adam Mohammed, a 53-year-old electrical engineer from the UK.

Mohammed, who’s of Iraqi-Kurdish origin, determined final yr to journey on foot to Saudi Arabia, a journey of greater than 7,000 kilometres (4,350 miles) that took him by way of 9 nations earlier than he crossed over from Jordan into the northwestern Saudi city of Tabuk.

The journey was made all of the extra dramatic by the truth that when he began his trek 11 months in the past, pushing a cart in entrance of him that contained his meals and different provides, he had no concept whether or not he would have the ability to entry the holy mosques in Mecca and Medina.

It was solely in April that Saudi Arabia, which barred abroad pilgrims in 2020 and 2021 as a part of efforts to mitigate the coronavirus pandemic, introduced that a million Muslims, together with 850,000 from overseas, would have the ability to take part this yr.

Now safely in Mekkah, some 15 kilograms lighter than when he began, Mohammed has no regrets.

“I cried after I first arrived. It’s an unbelievable feeling,” he advised AFP.

“My journey was exhausting. I ended in lots of locations for relaxation. However I used to be targeted on one factor: I’m 53 years previous, so what if I spare 11 months on the highway to succeed in the home of God? It’s doable.”

Mohammed stated Saudi authorities granted him and his spouse and two daughters, who’ve flown from the UK to the Gulf kingdom, a allow to carry out the Hajj.

A lot of the different foreigners performing the pilgrimage have been chosen by way of a lottery system.

‘It’s my dream’

One of many 5 pillars of Islam, the Hajj should be undertaken by all able-bodied Muslims who’ve the means a minimum of as soon as of their lives.

However pandemic restrictions compelled numerous would-be pilgrims primarily based exterior Saudi Arabia to place their plans on maintain.

Often one of many world’s largest spiritual gatherings, about 2.5 million individuals participated in 2019, earlier than the pandemic started.

The next yr, foreigners had been blocked and the overall variety of worshippers was capped at 10,000 to cease the hajj from turning into a worldwide super-spreader.

That determine rose to 60,000 absolutely vaccinated Saudi residents and residents in 2021.

Although the quantity is far larger this yr, there are nonetheless some restrictions: members should be Muslims aged beneath 65 who’re absolutely vaccinated and may submit a detrimental Covid-19 PCR end result from a take a look at taken inside 72 hours of journey.

The Hajj formally begins Wednesday, and Mekkah is already overrun with worshippers who, like Mohammed, are relieved to have lastly reached their vacation spot after lengthy, traumatic waits.

A 30-year-old Russian pilgrim who gave her title as Halima stated she had been imagining her keep in Mekkah for greater than a decade.

The Hajj prices a minimum of $5,000 per individual, and Halima stated she shared her story with mates to drum up funds for each her and her father to come back.

“Yesterday was the primary time I noticed the Holy Kaabah,” she stated. “It’s my dream to be right here, and now I’m dwelling it.”

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Biden expresses solidarity with Muslim group after ‘horrific’ killings

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The three newest victims belonged to the identical mosque, in keeping with Tahir Gauba, a spokesperson for the Islamic Heart of New Mexico. Officers have been withholding the id of the person killed on Friday pending notification of subsequent of kin.

However Gauba mentioned he was killed shortly after attending the funeral for the 2 earlier victims.

Muhammed Afzaal Hussain, 27, a planning director for the town of Espanola who immigrated from Pakistan in 2017, was shot useless on August 1 exterior his house complicated, lower than every week after Aftab Hussein, 41, from Albuquerque’s giant Afghan group, was discovered slain on July 26 close to the town’s worldwide district, police mentioned. Hussain additionally labored on the marketing campaign staff for US Consultant Melanie Stansbury of New Mexico.

Police mentioned they have been treating these two slayings, together with Friday’s killing, as linked to the November 7 homicide of 62-year-old Mohammad Ahmadi, additionally a Muslim from Afghanistan, who was shot to demise in a car parking zone exterior a halal grocery store and cafe.

“There are a number of issues in widespread with all 4 of the homicides,” metropolis police spokesman Gilbert Gallegos advised reporters on Sunday.

Requested whether or not investigators think about the killings to be hate crimes, Gallegos mentioned, “Hate is set by motive, and we don’t know that motive at this level.”

Gauba estimated there are 3,000 to five,000 Muslims residing in and round Albuquerque, accounting for about 85 % of all the state’s Islamic inhabitants.

New Mexico State Police, the FBI and the US Marshals Service are among the many companies aiding within the investigation.

— With extra enter from Reuters

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Any assault on a nuclear plant ‘suicidal’: UN chief

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NEW YORK: Any assault on a nuclear plant is “suicidal”, United Nations Secretary-Normal Antonio Guterres warned Monday after contemporary shelling hit an enormous atomic energy advanced in southern Ukraine.

Moscow and Kyiv blame one another for the newest strike on the Zaporizhzhia plant, Europe’s largest nuclear energy website, which has been below Russian management because the early days of the warfare.

The preventing on Friday on the plant has prompted the UN’s nuclear watchdog, the Worldwide Atomic Vitality Company (IAEA) to warn of “the very actual threat of a nuclear catastrophe”.

At a press convention in Tokyo, Guterres condemned such assaults with out saying both aspect was accountable.

“We assist the IAEA on their efforts in relation to create the circumstances of stabilisation of that plant,” he stated.

“Any assault to a nuclear plant is a suicidal factor. I hope that these assaults will finish, and on the similar time I hope that the IAEA will be capable to entry the plant.”

His feedback adopted a go to to Hiroshima over the weekend, the place Guterres gave a speech to mark the 77th anniversary of the world’s first nuclear bomb assault.

Within the Japanese metropolis on Saturday, he warned that “humanity is enjoying with a loaded gun” as crises with the potential for nuclear catastrophe proliferate worldwide, from Ukraine to the Center East and the Korean peninsula.

The Portuguese 73-year-old additionally delivered a stark warning in opposition to the horrors of atomic weapons every week in the past in New York at a key nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty convention, which he reiterated on Monday.

“We’re witnessing a radicalisation within the geopolitical scenario that makes the chance of a nuclear warfare once more one thing we can not fully neglect,” he stated.

When requested about China’s huge army workout routines round Taiwan, sparked by a go to final week to the self-ruled island by US Home Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Guterres stated the UN “abides by a decision of the Normal Meeting, the so-called One China coverage”.

“However all of us need that decision to correspond to a peaceable atmosphere,” he stated, calling for widespread sense and restraint to permit for an “extraordinarily vital” de-escalation.

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Israel and Palestinian group declare Gaza truce

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— 44 Palestinians, together with youngsters, have to this point been killed: officers

GAZA/JERUSALEM: Israel and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad group declared a truce late on Sunday, elevating hopes of an finish to probably the most essential flare-up on the Gaza frontier in additional than a 12 months.

Israeli forces pounded Palestinian targets by way of the weekend, triggering rocket assaults in opposition to its cities, which largely tapered off by the point the truce got here into impact at 23:30 (20:30 GMT).

It was introduced in separate statements by Islamic Jihad after which Israel, who each thanked Egypt for mediating the ceasefire.

The three-day clashes echoed preludes to earlier Gaza wars, although they had been comparatively contained as Hamas, the governing group within the Gaza Strip and a extra highly effective pressure than Iranian-backed Islamic Jihad, had to this point stayed out.

Gaza officers stated 44 Palestinians, nearly half of them civilians and together with youngsters, had to this point been killed.

Israel launched what it referred to as pre-emptive strikes on Friday in opposition to what it anticipated could be an Islamic Jihad assault meant to avenge the arrest of a frontrunner of the group, Bassam al-Saadi, within the occupied West Financial institution.

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