MIDDLE EAST: Airlift for Allah

The Koran orders all the faithful, except slaves, women without companions and those who cannot afford the journey, to make the hajj, the holy pilgrimage to Mecca, at least once in their lifetime. Last fortnight, as the season of the hajj drew near once again, more hajjis (pilgrims) than ever before—hajjis from Turkey, Iran, Iraq and most of the desert cities and oases of North Africa—followed the Koran's injunction and swarmed into the Lebanese city of Beirut,* the usual way-station on the road to Mecca. Each clutched in the voluminous folds of his ihram (the pilgrim's sheetlike uniform), an...

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