x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Haj pilgrims curse Assad

Enraged Syrian pilgrims yesterday cursed president Bashar Al Assad and prayed for his death as they hurled pebbles at pillars representing Satan in the final ritual of the annual Haj pilgrimage.

MINA, Saudi Arabia // Enraged Syrian pilgrims yesterday cursed president Bashar Al Assad and prayed for his death as they hurled pebbles at pillars representing Satan in the final ritual of the annual Haj pilgrimage.

Rebel flags billowed among crowds of pilgrims who strode towards the stoning site in the Saudi holy city amid the chanting of anti-Al Assad slogans.

"Oh God, may we see Bashar Al Assad soon hanged or burnt, kicked out or a humiliated prisoner," one Syrian yelled through a loud bullhorn as dozens walking behind him shouted: "Amen."

"Please tell the whole world about us. We are under siege in Syria, in Homs. They demolished our homes so we fled to Saudi Arabia," said one old woman, tears welling.

"I want victory for Syria. I hope to see the free Syrian flag waving in the country and all refugees and all the homeless going back," she added.

Syrian pilgrims were few at this year's Haj as the deadly civil war rages between the Al Assad regime and rebels.

Damascus has claimed that Riyadh barred Syrians from attending the Haj, but Saudi officials say they issued some 10,000 visas to Syrian refugees .

* Agence France-Presse