Some Egyptian Islamists on haj pray for victory against the generals
Saudi Arabian authorities have asked pilgrims to put politics aside during the annual haj, but amid bitter divisions in Egypt, some Islamists refuse to keep quiet.
“What’s happening in Egypt now is a disgrace, the army is killing innocent Muslims in cold blood every day,” said Zaghloul Hassanien, the owner of an oil products company in the Nile Delta town of Mansoura.
He was standing in a supermarket near the Grand Mosque in Mecca, the birthplace of Islam and focal point for the millions of Muslims flocking to the city for the annual rites, which start on Monday.
Keenly aware of the potential for political tensions to flare into violence at a time of upheaval across the Middle East, the Saudi Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef on Wednesday asked pilgrims to leave disputes at home.
He said the kingdom had drafted 95,000 members of the security forces to maintain order.
Sunni Muslim Saudi Arabia not only hosts the pilgrimage, but is increasingly involved in the conflicts across the region
The kingdom is embroiled in a region-wide contest for influence with Shi’ite Iran, with each side accusing the other of backing Syria’s bloody civil war.