FILES-SAUDI-RELIGION-POLITICS-HAJJ-HISTORY

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TO GO WITH AFP STORY BY PAUL HANDLEY
(FILES) A picture taken in November 1979 shows smoke billowing from Mecca’s Great Mosque, which was attacked on November 20, 1979 by gunmen belonging to a group commanded by Juhayman al-Oteibi, alias “Lieutenant Mahdi” (the Messiah). Thirty years ago, as tens of thousands of hajj pilgrims were completing dawn prayers inside Mecca, gunshots pierced the sanctity of the Grand Mosque. To mark a new century on the Islamic calendar, a group of millennialist zealots, who claimed to have with them the new redeemer — the mahdi — seized Islam’s holiest site. AFP PHOTO/STR / AFP PHOTO / FILES


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