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Pilgrims cast prayers to the skies in AlgeriaDetermined to rise high enough for their prayers to be heard, climbers defy the stifling summer heat to conquer a summit in Algeria's northern Kabylie region.At the heart of this restive Berber-speaking region, Azro Nethor – the zenith prayer rock – towers at 1,884 meters above sea level, at the end of a steep path in the Atlas Mountains, an exhausting, giddy climb up the rocky mountain side.For three successive Fridays each August, thousands of people from across Kabylie, and even from the capital Algiers, flock to the mountain peak, wheezing in the suffocating heat, for a pilgrimage rooted in a belief in the powers of holy men.Islam does not recognize any intermediaries between God and men, but the cult of holy figures remains deeply rooted in Algeria, despite orthodox Muslims fighting to curb the practice.Azro Nethor is named after a legend passed down over the centuries. It says that an elderly wise man topped the mountain peak just as the sun reached its zenith and died there as he finished his midday prayer.
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