Senegal's mass Mouride pilgrimage converges on holy city

A traditional march of the Mouride Brotherhood, a Sufi order with a mass following in Senegal, converged on the holy city of Touba on Saturday for the Grand Magal, its biggest annual celebration, AFP reporters said.

Hundreds of thousands of believers turned out for the pilgrimage. Some estimates put the figure at over a million.

Some three million Mourides are expected for Sunday's Grand Magal celebrations, making this one of the most popular pilgrimages in the world.

They are celebrating the life and teachings of Cheikh Amadou Bamba, the brotherhood's founder who died in 1927, reading his poems and praying by his tomb over the entire weekend.

Some 90% of people in Senegal, known for its religious tolerance, are Muslims. For the most part, they adhere to one of the several Sufi Islam currents represented in the country.

This year, the Grand Magal also has a political dimension, with candidates for next February's presidential election making an appearance.

President Macky Sall stopped by on Thursday and Friday, inaugurated a military police barracks, and asked Mouride leader Serigne Mountakha Mbacke for "prayers for his re-election", according to local media.

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