Reporters on the Job
• Five Star Tent: When Faiza and her Saudi sisters arrived in Mina for the start of their pilgrimage (this page), she was surprised by the first-class accommodations. "All of the prefab tents in this tent city look alike from the outside. But inside, each is different. We have doors on our rooms, and a shower, portable toilet, a basket of fruit - and all this with an open roof," she says. "My sisters wanted me to note that the majority of Muslim pilgrims don't live like this."
Faiza's sisters read over her diary entries before they're sent to the editors in Boston. "Reem and I are almost the same age, so we often argue. But she is making an effort to be patient with me and be a better person," says Faiza. "They laugh at what I've put in the story, and are self-conscious about what I say about them. They worry that we are not typical pilgrims. But if it means giving a human face to the hajj, and helping others understand it, then they tell me it's worth having their private lives exposed."
• French and British Sikhs: The low profile of the Sikh community in France has traditionally been to their advantage. "They've got on with their lives quietly, worshiping in a temple housed in a nondescript bungalow in a Paris suburb," says staff writer Peter Ford. But that low profile meant that they were overlooked last year when a government commission discussed how to reinforce France's tradition of secularism (page 1).
On Saturday, the Sikhs were hard to miss in Paris as they marched in their colorful turbans to the Place de la Bastille. Peter grew up in England where there are some half a million Sikhs.
"The debate over the turban here reminds me of the fuss the Sikhs made successfully 30 years ago in England. They won an exemption from a law requiring motorcyclists to wear helmets. And today, British police - the bobbies - who are Sikh don't wear helmets, they wear turbans," says Peter.
David Clark Scott