MECCA - Crown Prince Nayef, the new heir to Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah, warned on Tuesday the kingdom would use "all means" to ensure a peaceful haj pilgrimage amid tumult in other Arab countries and rising tensions with Iran.
Millions of Muslims have started to arrive in the holy city of Mecca to perform the haj, one of Islam's five pillars and a duty for all Muslims who are physically able.
Home to Islam's holiest sites, Saudi Arabia regards itself as the guardian of Islam and assumes the responsibility of maintaining a peaceful haj when Muslims from many countries and sects gather at the same place and time.
"We are ready to face all events, whatever they are ... our means are peaceful ... except for those who want to attack, whom we will prevent with all means," Nayef told a news conference in Mecca in answer to a question about the possibility of violent protests. Nayef is also Saudi Arabia's interior minister.