Alwaght- Hundreds of pilgrims lay on the ground wrapped in white cloth. What was supposed to be the attire for performing the last pilgrimage rite just 5-kilometers outside the holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia, became their shrouds after their lives were claimed in the deadliest tragedy to mar the Hajj season in 25 years.
About 2000 people, including 136 Iranians, were confirmed dead since Thursday, the day of Eid when Muslims celebrate the culmination of the annual Hajj pilgrimage, but the death toll from the calamity continued to rise.
On Friday, the spokesman for Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, Keyvan Khosravi said: “The unavoidable fact is that the Saudi government has been incompetent in this regard and with regard to the management of the Hajj pilgrimage and Riyadh must accept responsibility for this.”
But it’s not just Iran who is blaming Saudi authorities for the deadly incident. Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah held Riyadh responsible for the Mina tragedy for faults in management which it has refused to share with other Muslim countries.
Nigeria for its part rejected the Saudi Health Minister’s blame on pilgrims for “not following instructions.” Indonesia also voiced harsh criticism.
Who is to blame?
The incident comes only two weeks after a crane collapsed at the Grand Mosque in Mecca killing 109 people. Two disasters of this volume in two weeks are enough to refute claims of coincidence and stand as indicators of a deep-rooted problem.
When the crane fell and crushed the people who were standing near it, some tried to romanticize the tragedy by saying that the crane was prostrating to God, an act of worship that was accompanied by an act of ablution with blood. These claims were so ludicrous that they must have stemmed either from utter ignorance or a more likely state of affairs where the Saudis were trying to diverge the finger of blame to another direction.
But the truth remains and that is if those cranes were not perched above the Grand Mosque and the Kaaba, the accident would not have occurred.
Again, Riyadh is trying to pin the fault on others. While saying that it was the pilgrims’ fault for pushing, it stands to reason that this would have occurred over and over again in the past 25 years because pilgrims more often than not push their way to perform the rites. Why has it happened on such a large scale this year?
Several newspapers, including the Lebanese daily Al-Diyar reported that the stampede was caused by the blocking of two main roads because security forces were making way for the convoy of Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Crown Prince and Defense Minister Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud.
“The large convoy of Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud, the King’s son and deputy crown prince, that was escorted by over 3,50 security forces, including 200 army men and 150 policemen, sped up the road to go through the pilgrims that were moving towards the site of the ‘Stoning the Devil’ ritual, causing panic among millions of pilgrims who were on the move from the opposite direction and caused the stampede,” Al-Diyar wrote on Thursday.
Witness accounts have also revealed that two of the roads leading to the “Stoning the Devil” site were blocked stirring fright among pilgrims.
“There was crowding. The police had closed all entrances and exits to the pilgrims’ camp, leaving only one,” one pilgrim told the Telegraph. If these reports prove to be true, the incidents might as well be labeled crimes wrought upon innocent pilgrims by Saudi gluttony.
The truth can only be revealed through an objective inquiry into the tragedy. However, it is unlikely that Saudi authorities will allow other countries to be involved in an impartial investigation.
The Destruction of Mecca
“Stoning the Devil” is a ritual that sees pilgrims throw seven pebbles at pillars that symbolize Satan at the place where he tried to tempt Prophet Abraham.
But Saudi Arabia has failed this test. Tempted by the billions of dollars generated by the influx of more than two million pilgrims into Mecca each year, Saudi Arabia could not help itself but initiate a campaign of construction and destruction.
The mosque expansion project which includes new hotels and roads aims to accommodate an additional 1.6 pilgrims. Not only is it costly but it also speaks of lavishness tainting what otherwise is supposed to be an act of modest worship.
On the other hand, basic services are laughable in Mecca. One example is the Ajyad Emergency Hospital which only sustains 52 beds.
As opposed to constructing extravagant towers, luxurious hotels, malls, and brand-name stores, the Saudi regime is destroying historical, cultural, and religious structures.
One such example is the replacement of the house of Prophet’s wife, Khadija ,with 1,400 public lavatories.
Accomplishing the terrorist ideology of Wahhabism, the Saudi monarchy is mixing greed with creed as it obliterates history, and generates profit at the cost of human life, a price that it deems, as has been seen in recent weeks, cheap and insignificant.