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Over 1.5m Muslim Pilgrims Brave Extreme Heat To Pray On Mount Arafat In Hajj Climax

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By Kayode Sanni-Arewa

More than 1.5 million Muslims braved extreme heat to reach Mount Arafat on Saturday for the high point of the annual hajj pilgrimage, praying for hours, especially for Palestinians in war-ravaged Gaza.

Clad in white, worshippers began arriving at dawn for the most gruelling day of the annual rites, ascending the rocky, 70-metre (230-foot) hill where the Prophet Mohammed is believed to have given his last sermon.

“This is the most important day,” said 46-year-old Egyptian Mohammed Asser, who came prepared with a list of prayers. “I pray also for the Palestinians. May God help them.”

More than 1.5 million Muslims will pray on Mount Arafat in soaring temperatures on June 15, in the high-point and most gruelling day of the annual Hajj pilgrimage, one of the five pillars of Islam that must be performed at least once by all Muslims who have the means to do so. (Photo by Fadel Senna / AFP)

Muslim pilgrims gather at Saudi Arabia’s Mount Arafat, also known as Jabal al-Rahma or Mount of Mercy, during the climax of the Hajj pilgrimage on June 15, 2024. (Photo by Fadel Senna / AFP)

Muslim pilgrims pray at dawn on Saudi Arabia’s Mount Arafat, also known as Jabal al-Rahma or Mount of Mercy, during the climax of the Hajj pilgrimage on June 15, 2024.. (Photo by Fadel Senna / AFP)

This year’s hajj is unfolding in the shadow of the war in Gaza between Israel and Hamas, which was triggered by the Palestinian militants’ unprecedented attack on southern Israel on October 7.

The assault resulted in the deaths of 1,194 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on Israeli official figures.

Israel’s retaliatory military offensive has killed at least 37,266 people in Gaza, also mostly civilians, according to the Hamas-ruled territory’s health ministry.

Saudi Arabia’s minister in charge of religious pilgrimages, Tawfiq al-Rabiah, warned last week that “no political activity” would be tolerated during the hajj.

But that did not stop at least one pilgrim from chanting in support of the Palestinians who have endured more than eight months of incessant bombardment.

“Pray for our brothers in Palestine, in Gaza… may God give victory to the Muslims,” he shouted.

In a message to hajj pilgrims on Saturday, Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said “the ironclad resistance of Palestine and the patient, oppressed people of Gaza… must be fully supported in every way”.

Some 2,000 Palestinians are performing the hajj at the special invitation of Saudi King Salman, official media said.

Muslim pilgrims pray at dawn on Saudi Arabia’s Mount Arafat, also known as Jabal al-Rahma or Mount of Mercy, during the climax of the Hajj pilgrimage on June 15, 2024. (Photo by FADEL SENNA / AFP)

Muslim pilgrims pray at dawn on Saudi Arabia’s Mount Arafat, also known as Jabal al-Rahma or Mount of Mercy, during the climax of the Hajj pilgrimage on June 15, 2024. (Photo by Fadel Senna / AFP)

‘Scary’ heat
The hajj, one of the world’s biggest religious gatherings, is increasingly affected by climate change, according to a Saudi study published last month that said regional temperatures were rising 0.4 degrees Celsius each decade.

The rituals, which take at least five days to complete and are mostly outdoors, are “not easy because it is very hot”, said Abraman Hawa, 26, from Ghana.

“We have sun… but it is not as hot. But I will pray to Allah at Arafat, because I need his support,” she added.

The temperature was expected to hit 43 degrees Celsius (109.4 degrees Fahrenheit) on Saturday, creating challenges for pilgrims who arrived at Mount Arafat after spending the night in a giant tented city in Mina, a valley outside Mecca, Islam’s holiest city.

Saudi authorities have urged pilgrims to drink plenty of water and protect themselves from the sun. Since men are prohibited from wearing hats, many carry umbrellas.

More than 10,000 heat-related illnesses were recorded last year, 10 percent of them heat stroke, a Saudi official told AFP this week.

Ahmad Karim Abdelsalam, a 33-year-old pilgrim from India, admitted that he found the prospect of passing hours on Mount Arafat “a little scary”.

But with the help of an umbrella and water sprays, “God willing, everything will go well”, he said.

A Muslim pilgrim prays at dawn as he stands on Saudi Arabia’s Mount Arafat, also known as Jabal al-Rahma or Mount of Mercy, during the climax of the Hajj pilgrimage on June 15, 2024. – The ritual is the high point of the annual pilgrimage, one of the five pillars of Islam, that officials say could be the biggest on record after three years of Covid restrictions.

‘Once in a lifetime’
The hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam and all Muslims with the means must perform it at least once.

Yet visas, doled out to individual countries on a quota system, can be difficult to obtain.

“It’s a chance that only comes once in a lifetime, I couldn’t not come,” said Abdulrahman Siyam, a 55-year-old Iraqi pilgrim who was performing the rituals on a prosthetic leg.

After Mount Arafat, the pilgrims will head to Muzdalifah, where they will collect pebbles to carry out the symbolic “stoning of the devil” ritual in Mina on Sunday.

The hajj is said to follow the path of the Prophet Mohammed’s final pilgrimage, about 1,400 years ago.

It is an important source of legitimacy for the Al Saud dynasty, whose monarch has the title “Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques”, in Mecca and Medina.

It is also a major financial windfall for the conservative country, which is trying to develop religious tourism as part of a drive to reduce its dependence on crude oil.

The kingdom received more than 1.8 million pilgrims last year for the hajj, around 90 percent of whom came from abroad.

It also welcomed 13.5 million Muslims who came to perform umrah, the pilgrimage which can be done year-round, and aims to reach 30 million pilgrims in total by 2030.

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Samoa: Sexual Orientation Is A Big Lie, Political Manipulation Of Europe – ECOWAS Commissioner

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By Gloria Ikibah 
 
ECOWAS Commissioner for Human Development and Social Affairs, Prof. Fatou Sow Sarr, has said that the issue of sexual orientation is a political manipulation of the Europe.
 
Prof. Sarr stated this during an interactive session with ECOWAS Commissioners on the implementation of the programmes of of their departments, at thr ongoing 2024 Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS on Friday in Abuja. 
 
Naijablitznews.com reports that members of Parliament has expressed their concerns and worries about the Samoa Agreement and sexual orientation, and they wanted to know the position of ECOWAS Commission on the subject matter.
 
Responding to the quest, the ECOWAS Commissioner said, “Gender and LGBT is a big lie and is a manipulation for political reasons. Gender is a science but sexual orientation is political.
 
“Masculine and feminine roles are societal construct, for instance you are not born a woman you become a woman”.
 
Giving an example of David Greyman who was born an hermaphrodite and was later turned to a woman, she said  “it is this theories that gives you the sexual theories”.
 
“The issue of ggender is a science and  there is a political agenda today in the world with regards the issues of gender.
 
“In my department nobody will come and tell me about LGBT. No partner will tell me about LGBT, I will not bend my back when it comes to partners”. 
 
On the Issue of funding of ECOWAS Sarr explained  that contrary to the speculations that 70 percent fund is from European partners, it is only 30 percent that comes from partners, while the remaining 70 percent is the contributions from members states.
 
“I am a specialist on gender issues for 30 years. We believe that gender is a science. Imposition of sexual orientation is a political agenda the Europeans wants to impose on us. We should not allow them to succeed”, she added. 
 
 
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Just in: Residents warned as hundreds of terrorists reportedly escape from Niger prison

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By Kayode Sanni-Arewa

A large number of terrorists have reportedly escaped in a mass breakout at the high-security Koutoukalé prison in Niger Republic.

According to security expert Zagazola Makama, the incident happened on Thursday, resulting in the release of hundreds of terrorists, criminals, and drug traffickers.

The prison, situated near Niamey, the capital city, experienced a violent uprising that overwhelmed the guards, enabling the prisoners to escape with weapons and vehicles.

Witnesses said they heard gunfire and explosions around the afternoon time, which prompted a swift response from security forces.

However, by the time they arrived, the inmates had already taken control of the prison, breaching armored gates, barbed wire, and trenches.

The escape has raised serious questions about the security of the prison, which has previously thwarted two jihadist attempts to free comrades.

An investigation is underway to determine how the inmates were able to procure weapons and overpower their guards.

The Interior Minister has issued a radio message to all governors, confirming the escape and urging village chiefs and religious leaders to report any suspicious individuals.

A curfew has been declared in the Tillabéri region, and the entire River Niger region is on high alert.

The escape is considered a major security breach, and authorities are working to recapture the fleeing inmates.

The public has been warned to be vigilant and report any information that could aid in the recapture of the escaped prisoners.

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See photo of collapsed Saint Academy school in Jos

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By Kayode Sanni-Arewa

The photo of the collapsed Saint Academy school in Jos, capital of Plateau state has emerged online.

Naijablitznews reports many students reportedly died in the building warehousing several students.

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