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For Immediate Release
February 2, 2004

Iraqis Make the Pilgrimage to Mecca
Iraq Fact of the Day

This year, Iraqis were chosen to participate in the Hajj by a national lottery system, as opposed to nepotism and political favoritism that determined who could participate in the annual pilgrimage to Mecca under Saddam Hussein. The Iraqi High Commission for the Hajj assigned visas through a system that gave special allocations for the elderly and families of victims of Saddam's brutality. Nearly 43,000 Iraqi pilgrims will join the hundreds of thousands of Muslims from around the world in Mecca this week. The Hajj provides another example of ways that Iraq reintegrating into the international community.

Sources: Coalition Provisional Authority, Baghdad.

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