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Hajj Pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia; A Religious Ritual or a Modern Tragedy [Part 2]



Annual tragedies in Hajj ceremony proved that all precautions made by Saudi Monarchy were doomed to failure.

Over 270 pilgrims lost their lives in 1994 in a stampede which was followed by no statement of sorrow by Saudi officials. Seemingly, the recurrence of similar incidents made death a status quo for Saudis during Hajj.

Three years later, another group of 340 were killed in Mina after a fire blazed pilgrims’ tent. The story went even more tragic after the turn of the century.

Another phase of Mina stampede led to the death of at least 360 pilgrims in 2006. The same year was also observed by the collapse of a hotel in Mecca in which 73 people were killed.

After 2006, more steps were taken by Saudi Arabia to control the disasters. Crowd control were planned by devised plans, timetables of different groups of pilgrims and groups divisions. The religious clerics also loosened the religious rules regarding the specific time of the rites to lessen the traffic.

Saudi officials also tried to alleviate the traffic by building a billion-dollar platform near the place people throw stones at the wall representing the devil. The new measures seemed to control the disasters until 2015 when a new series of catastrophes broke out.

In September 2015, a construction crane collapse in Mecca near the grand mosque killing 107 people in a piteous way. It was also followed by another stampede, the deadliest of its kind, in the same ritual.

The Hajj pilgrimage which has always been the most perspicuous indication of unification in Muslim world turned out, in previous decades, to be one of its deadliest. Saudi Official, responsible for all disasters while apologizing for none, should bow to the worldwide call to convey part of pilgrimage management to other competent countries.