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Muslim pilgrims mass in Mecca for hajj

Muslim pilgrims circle counterclockwise Islam's holiest shrine, the Kaaba, at the Grand Mosque in the Saudi holy city of Mecca, late on September 21, 2015Hundreds of thousands of pilgrims from around the world on Tuesday began moving from the holy city of Mecca to nearby Mina for the start of the hajj, the world’s largest annual gathering. Almost two million people are expected to take part in this year’s pilgrimage, undeterred by a crane collapse in Mecca earlier this month that killed 109 people and injured nearly 400 at Islam’s holiest site. This year’s hajj begins against a backdrop of increased jihadi violence, a surge of the deadly MERS virus and with Saudi Arabia at war in Yemen.

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