Source: The Hindu
Wire Service: Reuters
On January 18, 2005 Reuters reported, "More than two million Muslim pilgrims began streaming out of Mecca towards Mena today, the first day of a Haj pilgrimage marked by grief over the Asian tsunami disaster and security fears. This year's Haj has a particular poignancy for thousands of pilgrims from Asia, where most of the world's one billion Muslims live, after December's devastating tsunami... Indonesian officials have said they expect the country to reach its 205,000-pilgrim quota despite the killer waves that killed more than 175,000 people. Some prominent clerics in Saudi Arabia have suggested the disaster was Indonesia's punishment for its Western-style mixed-sex beaches, bars and nightclubs. But most Muslims said the Koran did not support such a view. 'Although the Koran does talk about God using natural phenomenon to punish people who have gone astray, it is not for us to say or to know,' said Sayeed Mohamed, a preacher from South Africa where Islam is growing fast."