MINA, Saudi - Hundreds of thousands of Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca, armed with stones, crowded Monday afternoon to the stone pillars representing Satan in the valley of Mina, shouting Allah Akbar (God is greatest ).
Stones rained down on the three steles for this ritual began Sunday without major incident and must continue until Tuesday, last day of the hajj, the largest annual pilgrimage in the world.
The exercise in the past led to shoving giant who made hundreds of deaths, but a development of the site now allows a more fluid movements.
On the first day of Eid al-Adha (Sacrifice) celebrated Sunday, nearly three million pilgrims on Muslim holy sites this year were relayed by successive waves to begin the ritual throwing of seven stones the largest stelae, a pillar 30 feet high.
Monday and Tuesday, still in waves of hundreds of thousands of people, pilgrims throw seven stones are still on all three pillars.
"Once I have completed this ritual, I leave Mecca Wednesday," said Calzar Shah, a Pakistani, 33, who makes his second pilgrimage and welcomed the improvements to the stoning of Satan becomes "a easy exercise. "
After the stoning of Satan, the faithful still carry out convolutions around the Kaaba, the center of the Grand Mosque in Mecca, then to stroll between Safa and Marwa in the footsteps of Hajar, wife of Prophet Ibrahim, who according to tradition ran between these two places to get water for her son Ismail, until the spring of Zamzam spring up at his feet.
Hajj, the largest annual pilgrimage in the world, is one of the five pillars of Islam that every believer is supposed to do at least once in his life if he can afford.
Introducing the hajj as a part of "unity and solidarity" among Muslims, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia on Monday urged Muslim countries to "overcome their division and discord" to better prepare for the future.
"Our Islamic nation is facing more challenges facing us all," he said in a speech delivered on his behalf by the Crown Prince Nayef bin Aziz, before the heads of the delegations of the Islamic hajj.
He added: "We must realize that the factors of division (...) do not lead to chaos and weakness."
"I appeal (...) leaders and Muslim peoples to assume their historic responsibility in these circumstances," he said, before concluding: "We must choose the path of unity, not chaos ".
The king seemed to allude to the violence that shook Syria and Yemen in the wake of Arab Spring has already brought down the heads of state in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya.
The Saudi monarch, 87, has limited his public appearances after undergoing surgery Oct. 17 on the back, the third since an intervention in November 2010 for a herniated disc.