The deaths of such a large number of pilgrims--2,000 according to latest count and perhaps more--in a single day has renewed calls about the culpability of the Saudi regime. In illegal occupation of the Haramayn (Makkah and Madinah), their incompetence and callousness are directly responsible for the latest tragedy. They should be put on trial for war crimes.
Updated Friday September 25, 2015
Time: 09:03 DST
According to latest information from Makkah, the death toll has climbed to more than 2,000 according to Saeed Ohadi, Head of Iran's Hajj and Pilgrimage Organization who was quoted by Press TV today. The information was obtained from Saudi sources.Other reports confirmed that Saudi policemen closed all gates except one leading to the stoning site creating a bottleneck. Further, the policemen held their arms creating a human chain further restricting the area for pilgrims to move in the scorching heat.
Why the other gates were closed has not been explained but reinforces reports of the presence of deputy Crown Prince and Defence Minister Prince Mohammad bin Salman in Mina that led to the tragedy. The Lebanese daily, Al Diyar was the first to break the story of ibn Salman's presence although the Saudi regime is denying the report. The regime has still not explained what prompted the policemen to closed the gate and make a human fence to block the pilgrims' movement.
Thursday September 24, 2015, 18:34 DST
What should have been the culmination of Hajj rites when pilgrims complete their day at Arafat and return to Mina for the stoning of Shaytan, turned into a massive killing spree. More than 1,300 pilgrims were crushed to death in what has turned out to be the most deadly Hjj in living memory. The Saudi regime said “only” 717 pilgrims were killed (as if that is a small number!) and another 863 were injured.
Why did so many pilgrims die in a single day considering that 115 pilgrims had died in al-Masjid al Haram on September 11 when a huge construction crane collapsed into the most sacred site in Islam?
Eyewitnesses report that the convoy of Saudi deputy Crown Prince and Defence Minister Mohammad bin Salman, son of the Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz, was passing in Mina directly causing the stampede that led to such a huge death toll. A large security detail—200 military personnel and 150 policemen—accompanied the Najdi Bedouin prince. What was the blighter afraid of; were the pilgrims going to stone him rather than the Shaytan? Two streets on which the pilgrims were heading toward the stoning site were blocked off to create “safe passage” for the prince. The notoriously incompetent Saudi police did not advise the pilgrims of any alternate route. This is typical of Saudi attitude.
With hundreds of thousands of other pilgrims pushing toward the site and with those already blocked there, they had nowhere to escape to, hence the stampede that resulted in such a large number of deaths. Saudi officials, including Health Minister Khaled al-Falih blamed the pilgrims for the tragedy.
“If the pilgrims had followed instructions, this type of accident could have been avoided," he said, without explaining what those instructions were apart from blocking their passage. And what was the young prince doing there; surely, he was not there to perform Hajj rites?
The death toll is the largest in living memory of Hajj pilgrims for which the current Saudi rulers must be held accountable. Among the 1,300 dead pilgrims were also 125 Iranians.
The Rahbar, Imam Seyyed Ali Khamenei declared three days of mourning for the loss of such a large number of pilgrims in a single day. Iran's Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said earlier today that Saudi Arabia should be held accountable for the death of pilgrims. He said that the fatal crush started after Saudi security forces blocked two streets while the pilgrims were walking towards the final ritual of the Hajj.
The Haramayn—the two holy cities of Makkah and al-Madinah—must be taken out of the control of the corrupt and incompetent Saudi family otherwise they will cause even greater harm to the Ummah. At the same time, committed Muslims should establish a tribunal to try members of the House of Saud for war crimes and crimes against humanity. Nothing less would do.