Muslims from Syria overcome civil war in their country to travel to Islam's holiest sites in Saudi Arabia, while tensions between the Saudi and Iranian government force Iranians to perform their haj in Iraq. Diane Hodges reports.
Muslims from Syria overcome civil war in their country to travel to Islam's holiest sites in Saudi Arabia, while tensions between the Saudi and Iranian government force Iranians to perform their haj in Iraq. Diane Hodges reports. Muslims from around the world have gathered in Saudi Arabia to perform the haj, visiting the most holy places in Islam. Among them, Syrians who managed to come despite the civil war that has driven many to refugee camps in other countries. One woman who fled from Idlib to Turkey came to the holy site of Rahman Mountain, whose name means "mercy" to pray for peace. (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) FADIA AWAD, FROM JISER AL SHUGHUR IN IDLIB, SAYING : "We stayed on the top of the mountain because refugees in Lebanon, my relatives, my boys and girls, pleaded with us not to forget those who have been detained in Syria by the government. This is the most important thing; to come up here to pray for Syria." A woman from Aleppo, which has been devastated by the fighting, came to pray for the downfall of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) HEYYAM, FROM ALEPPO, SAYING : "We are praying, God willing, to get revenge on Bashar and his supporters. For us, he is a nonbeliever and the ones who support him are nonbelievers." Meanwhile, tense relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia have forced many Iranian Muslims to perform their haj in Iraq. Iran is mainly Shi'ite Muslim while the Saudis are mainly Sunni. Talks between the two nations on arrangements broke down in May, leaving this Iranian Muslim angry. (SOUNDBITE) (Farsi) UNKNOWN IRANIAN PILGRIM, SAYING: "The Saudi government has committed a despicable act by preventing Iranian pilgrims from visiting God's holy places. Shi'ites are not warmongers. We are peaceful people who like dialogue." Iranian Muslims are performing their haj by visiting the holy Shi'ite city of Karbala, to reconnect with their prophets and their faith.