S Arabia losing spirit of Hajj pilgrimage: Pundit

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Millions of Muslims from around the world have started arriving in the Saudi Arabian city of Mecca ahead of the annual Hajj pilgrimage, a central pillar of the Islamic faith that re-enacts the actions of the Prophet Muhammad from more than 1,400 years ago.

The measure was introduced to avoid the repetition of the deadly 2015 stampede at the religious event which killed over 2,400 people.

A member of Lebanon's Hezbollah meanwhile said the Iran-backed Shiite militant group has asked its members to refrain from going on the hajj this year because of tensions with Saudi Arabia.

The authorities may also learn about the pilgrim's delegation and his visa details, the official added.

AFP found pilgrims wearing the new bracelets which authorities aim to give to each of the more than 1.4 million faithful from overseas.

The pilgrims face new safety measures, including tighter security and ID bracelets, in a bid to prevent a repeat of last year's disaster.

He noted that during this year's negotiations with Saudi officials, they fell back on verses of the holy Quran saying that that anyone who enters Saudi Arabia has "full security".

The bracelets act nearly like a digital passport, and only cost two riyals each (NZ$0.73).

It is "like a passport", Melhem said. "They are Sunnis and are our brothers", protester Habibullah Abulfazli told AP.

"I tell myself that, at least, I am identified".

The information that e-bracelets would be introduced during 2016 hajj pilgrimage appeared in media in June this year.

Saudi Press Agency reported that the Interior Ministry spokesperson Major-General Mansoor Al Turki said in the first press conference for this season that the police forces are dedicated to protect the safety of pilgrims.

The Arab League should criticize Saudi Arabia's support for terrorism and find a way to support the Palestinian nation instead of backing the Saudi military aggression and conduct in Yemen, Syria, Bahrain and Iraq, as well as its incompetence for handling the Hajj pilgrimage.

This year's monumental rhetorical battle between the two regional rivals is not their first clash over the hajj.

The Eid-el-Kabir, which is celebrated worldwide by Muslims, comes up in many parts on Monday. Iran had the highest confirmed death toll among foreign nationalities in the Mina tragedy.