Egyptian pilgrims arrive at Cairo’s airport for their departure to the annual hajj pilgrimage in the Islamic holy cities of Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia. AFP / MOHAMED EL-SHAHED
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Every year tens of thousands of Egyptians apply for visas to travel to Mecca to join more than a million Muslims from across the world at the pilgrimage.Muslims have traveled to Mecca for the hajj since the seventh century, when God is believed to have ordained it in the Quran.There was the time when the Qaramatians, a sanguinary sect which controlled present-day Bahrain in the 10th century, descended on Mecca to put an end to what they viewed as superstition.They slaughtered thousands of pilgrims and made off with the sacred Black Stone of the Kaaba, ransoming it to the Abbasid Caliphate after having broken it in several pieces.Many Muslims still dream of going – even those who have already made repeated pilgrimages, such as 93-year-old Salem Ibrahim Rahmo.
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