Is The House Of Saud Exploiting Hajj Money For Its Own Political Purposes?

On 24 September 2015, the deadliest day in hajj history and one of the worst accidents in the world, over 2,420 pilgrims, many of them Iranians, suffocated and crushed to death during the third morning of the annual five-day pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia.

Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has accused “heartless and murderous Saudis” of deliberately causing the death of more than 400 Iranian pilgrims near the holy site of Mina, a few miles from the holy city of Mecca.

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“Should we decide to show any reaction, our reaction will be tough and harsh.” it quoted him as saying at a military academy, “Saudi Arabia’s rulers, instead of shifting blame (to others), must accept their responsibility in this heavy mishap by apologizing to the Islamic Ummah and their bereft families, and meeting their obligations to that effect,”

The Associated Press and Reuters put the death toll from tragedy at least 2,000 people, however, the Saudi authorities still give an official death toll of 769. The crash occurred after two large masses of pilgrims converged at a crossroads in Mina during the symbolic ceremony of the stoning of Satan in Jamarat.

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Saudi Prince Turki al-Faisal rejected the idea of sharing the administration of the hajj with other Muslim nations, saying Riyadh considers it both “a matter of sovereignty” and a “privilege.” Iran says it had 465 pilgrims killed and 150 were injured, while Egypt lost 182, Nigeria 168 and Indonesia 126.

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Following years of accusations of mismanagement, Iranian officials have called on Saudi Arabia to explain how the tragedy took place, or give up their rights to organizing the yearly event, which brings more than two million Muslims annually to Mecca, Islam’s holiest city. Iran boycotted the 2016 Hajj season over a series of rifts between the two countries.

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The authorities in Indonesia, which lost nearly 130 citizens in the disaster, also expressed frustration with the Saudi response, saying they were not given full access to victims and hospitals for days.

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It was not the first time that the Saudi government has shown its incompetence during the hajj. Iranians were among the more than 107 killed when a construction crane fell and crushed a crowd gathered for Friday prayers at Mecca’s Grand Mosque on 11 September 2015. Two tragic incidents have taken place in a short time which proves the Saudi government is not capable of managing the pilgrimage.

Another disastrous Hajj-related accident was in 1990 when 1,426 people were killed in a crush in an overcrowded pedestrian tunnel.

Besides, Saudi Arabia has recently increased the amount of taxes paid by Muslims who want to enter the kingdom. It is leading pilgrims all over the world to question whether it is time to “boycott the Hajj.” as Saudi government uses the large amounts of money to “kill and displace people, as is the case currently in Yemen.”

In response to violence perpetrated by Saudi Arabia in Yemen, the Union of Tunisian Imams called on the Grand Mufti of the Republic to discourage pilgrims from traveling to complete the Hajj this year. because of the high costs of the trip and the fact that the money is used by Saudi Arabia to pay for its wars in other Muslim countries.

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