More than two million Muslims began the annual haj pilgrimage Friday amid heightened security as Saudi Arabia continued to battle Islamic militants bent on undermining the ruling family. This year’s haj is overshadowed by fears of a possible attack by Saudi-born Osama bin Laden’s al Qaeda network, blamed for a series of suicide attacks in the kingdom since the U.S. invasion of Iraq last March. Sheikh Saleh al-Taleb urged Muslims gathered for Friday prayers against violence. “The haj should not be turned into anything against its original intentions. A Muslim should not hurt another Muslim,” he said in Mecca’s Grand Mosque, the focus of the pilgrimage. Full Story
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