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Over three million Muslims attended Biswa Ijtema, an annual global Islamic meet, on the banks of river Turag on the outskirts of the Bangladesh capital.
The valedictory prayer at Sunday’s congregation, known as Akheri Munajat, which is the world’s second largest such gathering, was led by Maulana Zobairul Hassan from Tablig-e-Jamaat, India.
Many of the pilgrims were on boats or on the rooftops of nearby buildings as the crowd overflowed the designated venue. President Iajuddin Ahmed, the countryâ€™s interim leader Fakhruddin Ahmed and two former Prime Ministers – Khaleda Zia and Sheikh Hasina – joined the prayer on the final day of the gathering.
Many devotees from the capital left work early to join the prayer. Sunday is normally a working day in this mostly Muslim country. Extra buses and trains were set to ferry devotees to the prayer site, the organisers said in a statement. â€œItâ€™s a great feeling. I feel proud that Iâ€™m among millions of people seeking divine blessings for peace in the world,â€ said Abdul Malek, who closed his convenience store in Dhaka to join the festival.
Female devotees are not usually allowed to attend, but hundreds of women gathered in nearby villages to take part in the event. About 20,000 security officials, including troops, have been deployed to the area of the gathering to prevent any violence, said police official Biswas, following months of often violent protests to push for electoral reform.
Abdur Rahim, a spokesman for Tablig Jamaat, an organisation of Islamic preachers that sponsored the event, has said several thousands of the worshippers were from outside Bangladesh. The annual World Congregation of Muslims, or â€œBishwa Ijtema,â€ has been held each year since 1966 on the banks of the River Turag in Tongi, just north of the capital, Dhaka.