(A Muslim pilgrim prays at Mount Al-Noor ahead of the annual haj pilgrimage in Mecca October 10, 2013. REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa)

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.