Around 716 people died and another 863 got injured in a stampede near the holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia while taking part in Hajj pilgrimage. At an intersection in Mina, about six miles east of the city, stampede occurred around 9am on the first day of Eid al-Adha, one of the holiest days in the Muslim calendar, and as millions of Muslims were making their Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca. According to Saudi Civil Defence Directorate all the injured have been taken to the nearby hospitals. Brig. Gen. Mansour al-Turki, an Interior Ministry spokesman informed the media about the necessary steps being carried out by the ministry to avoid further perplexity among the pilgrims. Further he has assured the pilgrims to carry their rituals like before of this catastrophe.

Image Courtsey : http://goo.gl/xqXOBU

Image Courtsey : http://goo.gl/xqXOBU

Hajj is one of the pilgrimages which is to be carried out by every person who follows Islam and have the financial and physical capabilities. Mina is a holy place in Mecca where stoning rituals are practiced. In the ritual, crowds of pilgrims throw stones at three pillars in a re-enactment of when the Prophet Abraham stoned the devil and rejected his temptations, according to Muslim traditions. The stoning ritual is done over at least two days. According to tradition the event was a test from God, who gave Abraham a ram to slaughter instead.

This catastrophe exposed the poor condition of Mina, one of the most occupied tent cities in the world. It is overcrowded and congested as 1.2 million pilgrims stay here during their performance of ritual at mecca. 2006 saw the horrifying mass death as when one of newly not properly constructed hostels collapsed killing about 1000 pilgrims and few hundreds injured. The stampede incident has been criticized all over the world especially in the Islamic nations. The incident even got politicized after the public statement of the head of the Central Hajj Committee, Prince Khaled al-Faisal as he blamed the stampede on “some pilgrims from African nationalities,” which was reported by Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya TV channel.

From the team of “The Times of The World” we pay our deep condolences to the people injured and the families who lost their loved ones in the unfortunate incident on this auspicious occasion of Eid al-Adha (Bakri Eid) at one of the holiest sites in Mecca.