Saudis Responsible for Hajj Disaster

Saudis Responsible  for Hajj DisasterSaudis Responsible  for Hajj Disaster

The Leader of the Islamic Revolution said the Saudi government bears responsibility for Thursday’s catastrophic incident in which hundreds of pilgrims were killed in a crush on the outskirts of the holy city of Mecca.

“The Saudi government is obliged to shoulder its heavy responsibility in this bitter incident…, while the mismanagement and improper measures that were behind this catastrophe should not be overlooked.” Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei said.

In a statement posted on his official website on Thursday, the Leader offered condolences to bereaved families, particularly those in Iran, and declared three days of national mourning.

According to Reuters, the disaster happened when two large groups of pilgrims on their way to Jamarat arrived together at a crossroads in Mina, a few kilometers east of Mecca.                 

Fars News Agency reported that over 130 of the dead were Iranian.

It was the worst incident to occur at the pilgrimage since July 1990 when 1,426 pilgrims suffocated in a tunnel near Mecca.

Both disasters happened on Eid al-Adha (Feast of the Sacrifice), Islam’s most important feast and the day of a symbolic ritual where pilgrims hurl pebbles at three pillars representing Satan.

 Special Committee

President Hassan Rouhani, who is in New York for the 70th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, issued a message, extending sympathies to families of the victims and instructing his first deputy Es’haq Jahangiri to establish a special committee on the issue.

“The Foreign Ministry is charged with investigating the disaster and taking any measure required to ensure restoration of the rights of the victims,” the president said in the statement, IRNA reported.

He echoed the call by Ayatollah Khamenei on the Arab kingdom to take responsibility for the incident and fulfill their “legal and Islamic duty in this regard.”

The deputy foreign minister for Arab and African affairs told IRNA that Tehran summoned the Saudi charge d’affaires to lodge an official complaint over the tragic incident.

“Saudi officials were asked to act responsibly,” Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said, adding, “Saudi Arabia must be accountable to Iran and other Muslim countries for its failure to safely handle Hajj affairs.”

 Hajj Message

Ayatollah Khamenei had issued a message to Hajj pilgrims on Wednesday.

In the message, he denounced Israel for its atrocities in connection with al-Aqsa mosque, saying its “repeated desecration” of the holy site and its other crimes, together with US policies in the region, are among the most pressing issues facing Muslims.

“Today, the mischievous policies of America in this region are the source of war and bloodshed and devastation and homelessness as well as poverty and backwardness and ethnic and religious differences. Crimes by the Zionist regime, which has stretched its usurping behavior in the country of Palestine to the ultimate degree of ruthlessness and evilness, in addition to repeated violations of the sacred sanctuary of al-Aqsa Mosque and trampling on the lives and property of the oppressed Palestinians, is the foremost problem for all of you Muslims.”

The Leader said religious scholars, politicians and cultural elite should stop ignoring their responsibility to help counter plots by hegemonic powers against Muslim countries and the people should demand this from their governments.

“And Hajj and its glorious gatherings are the loftiest place for the rise and exchange of this historic obligation. And the opportunity to denounce [infidels], which must be valued through participation of all Hajj pilgrims from all places, is one of the most expressive political rituals in this overarching obligation,” he added.