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Saudis Ban Al Jazeera TV From Covering Pilgrimage

February 11, 2003|From Associated Press

MT. ARAFAT, Saudi Arabia — At sacred Mt. Arafat outside Mecca, 2 million Muslims prayed in the main ritual of the annual hajj, and then collected pebbles to use today in the symbolic stoning of three pillars that symbolize the temptations of the devil.

But Al Jazeera satellite television, the most popular station in the largely Arab Islamic Middle East, said Saudi authorities had barred it from the event.

The station's chief editor, Ibrahim Hilal, attributed the Saudi decision to a falling-out between the kingdom and neighboring Qatar over reports by the Qatari-based satellite news channel that the kingdom found insulting to its royal family.

The hajj, or pilgrimage, has been among the top items on Arab television -- including Al Jazeera, which has been airing Saudi television video footage.

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