By Al Jazeera English [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

By Al Jazeera English [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Pilgrims from all over the world are gathering at Mecca for Hajj as the Health Ministry is warning of MERS.

There has been a sudden increase in the number of MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) cases in the country of Saudi Arabia right before the annual Islamic Hajj pilgrimage. This virus has the potential to cause death. This update was reported by Khalid-al-Falih, the Health Minister of the Kingdom, on Thursday.

Pilgrims from all over the world are coming into Mecca for the Hajj pilgrimage and the Health Ministry has reported another two cases of MERS in Riyadh. However there is also news that there has been a slight decline in the number of MERS cases in September, as compared to last month.

A news conference was held in which Falih was reported saying that they are trying to find ways to prevent this virus from spreading to the visiting pilgrims. They have their faith in God and also the measures which are being undertaken by the health ministry. As of now, Hajj has seen a little over one million Muslims arriving for the annual pilgrimage.

The last two years have had almost three million Muslim pilgrims pouring into Mecca; however, efforts have been made by the authorities to restrict the number of people in the last two years. This is because a lot of construction work is taking place around the Grand Mosque.

While, there is concern about the spreading of MERS in Saudi Arabia on one hand, there is also some >unrest due to other reasons. A warning has been given by Saudi Arabia to the Muslim pilgrims coming in for the annual Hajj in Mecca that they must not exploit this annual Islamic pilgrimage for any political reasons. The authorities fear that any kind of chaos in this region could lead to attacks or some sort of discord.

There were people who came in wearing clothes and conversing in a dozen different languages, from various nations, to the Grand Mosque in Mecca on Friday. They offered prayers, showcasing religious harmony and peace in a time when the Muslim states in the region are drifting apart due to conflict.

There have been 3 suicide bombardments at mosques in Saudi Arabia by those who sympathize with the Islamic State, proving that places of prayer and worship are also at the risk of being attacked by militants

Worshipers from all different nationalities, at the Grand Mosque, expressed their hope of the Hajj offering an opportunity to the Muslims to keep strife aside.


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