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Four Million Attend Muslim Prayer Event

Muslim devotees crowd together in an effort to see the closing prayers of the Bishwa Itjema in Tongi, near Dhaka, Bangladesh, on January 24.
An estimated 4 million-plus Muslims have taken part in mass prayers near the Bangladeshi capital in a rite to conclude Islam's biggest annual event after the pilgrimage to Mecca.

An Indian imam led prayers today outside Dhaka, at the World Muslim Congregation, or Bishwa Ijtema, as pilgrims looked on from makeshift perches and packed roads leading to the prayer site on the banks of the River Turag.

Many senior Bangladeshi officials, including the president, Zillur Rahman, and the prime minister, Sheikh Hasina, were in attendance.

Nearly nine out of 10 Bangladeshis is Muslim.

The Bishwa Ijtema was launched decades ago -- though its precise origins are disputed -- to foster Islamic belief and promote peace through prayer.

compiled from agency reports