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Category:Mena Disaster

An Overview of Hajj tragedy

The Saudi Grand Mufti, Abdul-Aziz ibn Abdullah Al al-Shaykh said, some pilgrims wanted to be killed in Mina in order to reach a high station in the hereafter, hence they put their selves in harm!
On September 11, 2015, the fourteenth-year anniversary of the U.S. twin-tower attack, a crane on the loose belonging to the Bin Laden family (family of the suspected twin-tower master-mind) construction company handling work at the Haram, went berserk, and like a thunderbolt from hell crushed pilgrims in the precincts of the holy Ka’abah. Over 100 pilgrims lost their lives.
Two weeks later when the hajj was at its peak and gathering momentum, about 4,000 pilgrims also lost their lives in what was said to be a “stampede” at the Jamarat Al-Aqbah. Many more are still missing.
Prior to these two disaster, there was a fire at a residence of the pilgrims, in which fewer pilgrims died. There were casualties.
Of all world reactions, that of the Bahraini Al Khalifah dynasty was most strange and bizarre. The unpopular Al-Khalifa who had been chased out of his country and took refuge in Saudi Arabia congratulated the Saudis for organizing a successful Hajj!
The first Saudi official report was very degrading and humiliating, as it accused black African pilgrims for the tragedy. It later back-pedaled and claimed that the said “stampede” was as a result of disregard to Hajj rules by the whole pilgrims in the conduct of the hajj rite; ironically, they killed themselves!
The Saudi Grand Mufti, Abdul-Aziz ibn Abdullah Al al-Shaykh said, some pilgrims wanted to be killed in Mina in order to reach a high station in the hereafter, hence they put their selves in harm!
Subsequently, in the most disturbing manner, typical of the Wahabbi ideology, the Saudi authorities blamed Allah for the tragedy. And like a wild fire, those benefitting from the Muslims’ wealth hijacked by the Al-Saud royal family, the Oil Sheikhs, echoed the theory across continents. They said, “This was due to divine fate and destiny which is inevitable!” According to this theory, Allah decided to take the lives of the pilgrims at Mina in this humiliating manner, hence the stampede.
Reacting to this, a renowned teacher in the Islamic Seminary of Qom, Iran, Ayatollah Makarem-Shirazi said the House of Saud has no clear understanding of the meaning of divine fate and destiny explaining that, “Can we remove road controls and say the death toll from the accidents that will occur are caused by divine fate and destiny?”
When all these raging controversies were going on, Nigerians were astonished to hear from the BBC Hausa radio (also monitored by Daily Trust newspaper) an interview with Kebbi State Ameerul Hajj and Emir of Argungun, Isma’il Muhammad Mira who narrowly survived the ordeal, blamed the Saudi security for the tragedy.
He said, the Saudi security blocked the way which thousands of pilgrims were passing for the symbolic rite in Mina under scorching sun.
“Saudi security barricaded the road. That was how everybody stumbled. Those at the back were not aware that the front was no longer moving, and those at the front were stopped by the Saudi security. And the security were being increased in number to ensure that they effectively blocked pilgrims from passing through,” he said.
He said, “Only God knows what they planned and what happened at the place, and God will avenge the deaths. But what we know is that they barricaded our way.”
There is another confession by a Nigerian pilgrim and legislator, Senator Bgenga Ashafa representing Lagos South constituency, who told the Senate during its session that Saudi authorities should be held accountable for the disaster for blocking 9 out of the 10 doors at Mina.
He said, Nigeria, with the second highest death toll, should seek explanation from Saudi Arabia over the death of its pilgrims. This is the likely reason a delegation from Saudi Arabia quickly visited Nigerian National Assembly and apologized.
Senator Gbenga Ashafa also accused the Saudi medical officials for inaction to save lives, because of what he described as their “deficiency in faith”. According to him, for the timely and well-coordinated effort of Nigerian medical personnel, the death toll would have been higher.
“The Saudi security forces were terrible; they did nothing. They were just watching as people began dying. No efforts were made to help anyone”, this statement was from a pilgrim who survived the stampeded during an interview.
In an interview with ABNA news agency, another pilgrim narrated what actually happened as a primary witness to the event: “The Saudi police blocked the road, forcing people to move in a very small and closed up road. They sent most of Hajj pilgrims on Street 204, but unfortunately that street was closed out! Police then called on those people in the front to sit and wait. When they sat down those behind thought the way had been opened up and as a result moved forth. People began tripping over one another and mayhem ensued”.
He was also asked why Iran and Nigeria suffered most casualty: “The tents of African and Iranian pilgrims were set up near where the accident happened, which is why they suffered most”.
Similarly, pan Arab daily Asharq Al-Awsat, a medium financed by the Al-Saud family claimed that the stampede was prompted when 300 Iranian pilgrims travelled from Mozdalafe to Mina failed to go to their tents. An Iranian pilgrim interviewed said it was not true. “After coming to Mina we went to our tents and ate breakfast, then we moved toward Jamarat. This event happened near Jamarat not at the entrance of Mozdalafe. There was a one-way road toward the Jamarat. How is it possible for 300 people to move against thousands?!”
There is now a twist in the story. The cause of the stampede is now Iran.  Trumpets of Saudi royal kingdom have now began a full blown crafted propaganda in the media, which claimed that the stampede was as a result of lawlessness of the Iranian pilgrims.
In countries like Nigeria where Wahabbism is flourishing and being financed by the Al-Saud family with blood Riyals and Dollars, special programmes were being organized with ‘Cheap Imams’, while news commentaries are sponsored on radio stations in order to soften the tensed nerves of Nigerians in the face of glaring evidences regarding the callous and recklessness of the Saudi authorities. According to this propaganda, that was why Iran recorded the highest deaths in the tragedy! Asharq Al-Awsat said so. What a bundle of contradiction!
The contradictory statements were aimed at exonerating the Saudi royal family from blame, when in the actual sense the family’s hands are soaked with innocent blood. A Saudi Arabic daily, Al-Diyar reported that, the stampeded was caused by the untimely presence of the Saudi infamous deputy crown prince (whose unofficial nickname is “Reckless”) and Saudi Defense Minister’s entourage, which was accompanied by 200 military and 150 police personnel, in addition to 200 luxurious vehicles. This resulted in fatal blocking of the two of the three corridors of Mina. The irrefutable personal video recording of the incident attested to this fact. To cover up what actually happened in Mina, the Saudi Kingdom banned the release of the official CCTV recording of the event.
The same Asharq Al-Awsat in an interview with Mr. Hani al-Shoukri, an astute Middle-East expert presented a new insight into the Mina tragedy. Mr. Hani al-Shoukri claimed that there is evidence indicating the Saudi security forces indeed dispersed toxic chemicals among the pilgrims, which led to the deadly incident.
Another Egyptian Saudi-based medical expert, Dr. Abdulhamid Fauzy wrote a complaint letter to Saudi monarch that a poisonous substance must have been used on the pilgrims during the stampeded.
As reported by AL-MUDIH news channel, Dr. Fauzy explained that after thorough medical examination and expert analysis he and other doctors in Egypt have come to the conclusion that a poisonous gas has been used on the pilgrims.
He further explained that, some of the pilgrims who survived are now experiencing complete loss of memory, to the extent that some could not even remember their names. He noted that such situation cannot happen to victims of a stampeded.
Many observers have suspected a foul play in the hasty burial and refusal of the Saudi authorities for medical examination of the corpses to ascertain cause of their death, as well as its refusal to allow for an independent investigation. The conspiracy is obvious.
The hands of Mossad is highly visible in the Mina tragedy. Israel and Saudi are two countries having sleepless nights over the brokered deal on Iran’s nuclear enrichment.
This year alone, the Muslims world has suffered triple tragedy in Saudi Arabia with over 4,000 deaths and increasing number of casualty, without the country accepting responsibility and offering apology. Instead, the Muslim world is blamed. Whatever the case, the world can never trust Saudi kingdom in view of its relationship and total submission to the western world. There is now greater suspicious on the Saudi monarch, especially with its alliance with U.S. in killing Muslims in Yemen, Bahrain, Syria and Iraq.
The House of Al-Saud is becoming shaky by the day; internal conflict becoming more visible. There is said to be internal wrangling within the family with the second generation crown Princes calling for reform within the dynasty, and the extension of rule beyond the direct descendants.
The global reaction now is that, Hajj operation be taken off the shoulder of Saudi royal family. The two holy sites in Makkah and all the wealth in the country belong to all Muslims, and not the exclusive reserve of the Al-Saud. If authorities in Iraq can effectively handle a pilgrimage of 40 million participants with no single death, then the Al-Saud family has woefully failed. They do not deserve the title of Custodians of the Two Holy Sites, but killers of visitors of the two holy sites.
The insensitivity of Saudi authorities knows no boundary. The kingdom did not show any sign of remorse to what happened; no national mourning, and no apology. Instead, it was busy hosting world burly wrestlers (WWF) for a live action in the country. It did the same thing during the Rushdie affair. When the late Ayatollah Ruhullah al-Kohmaini passed death sentence on Salman Rushdie over his blasphemous book, Satanic Verses, the Saudi government was busy hosting World Cup organized by the same governments that financed and backed the author. It was only Iran, among all Muslims nations, that observed a three-day national mourning over the Mina tragedy.
Let there be an independent investigation to be jointly carried out by representatives of all Muslim nations. An eye for an eye. All those found complicit in the tragedy should face the law, as stipulated by Islam. Let the justice claimed by the Al-Saud kingdom take its course. This issue should go beyond mere compensation.
 
The disaster
According to a statement by the Saudi civil defence directorate, a stampede occurred Thursday 24 September 2015 at 09:00 Mecca time (06:00 UTC) at the junction between street 204 and 223 as pilgrims were en route to the Jamarat Bridge. The Saudi Interior Ministry stated that the stampede was triggered when two large groups of pilgrims intersected from different directions onto the same street. The area was not previously identified as a dangerous bottleneck. The junction lay between two pilgrim camp sites. The International Business Times and the Daily Mail reported that the governor of Mecca Province and Saudi Arabia's head of the central Hajj committee, Prince Khalid bin Faisal Al Saud, blamed the crush outside the holy city on "some pilgrims with African nationalities"; this caused some African leaders to lash out in response.
Lebanon-based Arabic-language daily Ad-Diyar alleged that the convoy escorting Prince Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud, comprising 200 soldiers and 150 police officers, played a central role in the incident, by making some pilgrims turn around against the flow, which triggered a stampede. The article also stated that Mohammad and his huge entourage swiftly abandoned the scene, adding that the Saudi authorities sought to hush up the entire story and impose a media blackout on reporting Mohammad's presence in the area.
Press TV reported that an Iranian survivor of the Mina incident, whose name was not revealed, said only a handful of Saudi soldiers assisted those being trampled in the crush. "When I returned to the disaster point to help, Saudi soldiers prevented me from entering the area. This, as only a handful of Saudi soldiers were helping the victims, while a large number of them were standing by idly and looking," the man told Press TV. A number of other survivors have also shared similar accounts, saying that mismanagement by the Saudi authorities and a poor rescue response complicated the situation.
In a press conference held the day of the incident, spokesman of the Ministry of Interior Mansour Al-Turki attempted to address the incident. He said that an investigation was ongoing, that the exact causes for crowding that led to the deadly stampede on Mina Street 204 are yet to be ascertained. He explained that "Street number 204 is a road leading from the camps to the Jamarat Bridge. What happened was that a group of pilgrims on buses were allowed to descend onto the pathways that lead to the Jamarat Bridge at a time that wasn’t allocated to them," Al Arabiya News Channel’s correspondent in Mina, Saad Al-Matrafi said. "As they neared the area, they converged with an existing group of people who were already in the area, which pushed the area to over capacity." The spokesman also mentioned that most diplomatic convoys take place in the south of Mina and in underground tunnels, while the incident took place in the north. He added that news regarding the incident should be sought from official sources, pointing out that most controversial news regarding the unfortunate incident are coming from sources at conflict with the Saudi Government.
One day after the Mina crush tragedy, Saudi media publicized a statement by the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia, Abdul-Aziz ibn Abdullah Al ash-Sheikh, exonerating Crown Prince Muhammad bin Nayef (known as "MBN") from responsibility for the disaster, as his Interior Minister title holds him accountable for safety issues at the Mecca shrine. The Grand Mufti's statement, which characterized the incident as "beyond human control", "inevitable", and attributable to "fate", immunized MBN against possible domestic criticism.0
Casualties
The exact casualty figure for the Mina crowd collapse is disputed. The Saudi government claims only 769 deaths while Iranian media sources have proposed figures as high as 4,173. Independent estimates range between 4000 and 7000 people killed.
Estimates of the injured and missing also vary greatly; Saudi reports claim 934 injured; Iranian reports are much higher, estimating more than 2000 injuries. On the day of the disaster, the Saudi Civil Defense directorate stated that casualties were of multiple nationalities and announced the deployment of 4,000 personnel to the stampede site alongside 220 emergency response units. Pilgrims were redirected away from the stampede site, and the Saudi Red Crescent Authority was mobilized. Medics at Mina's emergency hospital said they alone received almost 700 people on the day of the incident, a claim that was contradicted by the facts on the ground. The eight hospitals around the Hajj landmarks and the six main hospitals in the city of Mecca were operating at full capacity after the stampede, medics said.
Saudi King Orders Concealing Mina CCTV Records
Saudi King Salman has ordered his forces to transfer all the images recorded by the closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras of the Hajj stoning rituals in Mina to an unknown location to be hidden in a top secret data center, media reports said on Sunday.
"The Saudi king's order came after some videos showing the main cause of the Mina tragedy were released on the Internet," the Arabic-language Middle East Panorama news website reported.
It noted that another reason for collecting the Mina CCTV captured videos is related to a demand by the world Muslims and Hajj pilgrims to set up an international fact-finding committee to probe into the Hajj tragic incidents.
A stampede during one of the last rituals of the Hajj season killed more than 4,000 people and left thousands wounded.
The stampede occurred during the ritual known as "stoning the devil" in the tent city of Mina, about two miles from Mecca.