Right now, up to two million Muslims are in Mecca to participate in the Muslim pilgrimage. Over 2000 of them have left Sweden.

From Sweden, more than 2,300 people have gone down to Mecca, an increase of 30 percent in just two years, according to figures from the Saudi Embassy in Stockholm. Two of those who went are Hassan’s mother and big brother from Malmö.

Everything started with a birthday present for my mom, and we raised money together. And finally the brother went with my mother. That being said, there is something very valuable in Islam, and I think it is something everyone wants to go to, says Hassan.

Hassan’s mother and big brother are currently in Mecca to carry out the pilgrimage, which takes place on the last Muslim calendar month, where one then goes down to Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia, the two holiest Muslim sites and performs various rituals.

At the same time, Muslims are calling for an international network campaign to boycott the pilgrimage, considering that the revenue contributes to Saudi Arabia’s war fund, Saudi Arabia involved in the Yemen war, according to them.

I think you should look at this as a way of getting public opinion, because there is a terrible war going on where Saudi Arabia has the most lives on its conscience, says Mohammad Fazlhashemi, professor of Islamic theology and philosophy at Uppsala University.

But Fazlhashemi believes that for most Muslims, the pilgrimage, which is one of five pillars of Islamic faith, weighs heavier than Saudi Arabia’s foreign policy:

Most Muslims consider this as the holiest of places. And to accomplish this is something that believers and practicing Muslims dream of being able to do, he says.

And this is the case for Hassan, whose family has gone on pilgrimage this year:

Yes absolutely. It’s a dream, actually. Because, if we think of Mecca, this is where all Muslims from all over the world meet, you learn new things and meet other Muslims. It’s just positive.