View Full Version : 244 Moslems Die in "Hajj" Stampede

Sunday, February 1st, 2004, 02:34 PM
Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji'un.

Personally, I think it is a very stupid tradition for thousands of people to gather at the same spot and hurl rocks through the air, but what can you do? There are plenty better ways to show your contempt for Satan, instead of giving into your anger and throwing rocks around.

If a Muslim is going to die at any time and place, dying during a pilgrimage to Mecca is the best way to go. Still horrible deaths that could be avoided by spacing out the pilgrimage over several months, instead of 2 million+ people crowding the place all at once.

244 Muslim Pilgrims Die in Hajj Stampede (http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/ap/20040201/ap_on_re_mi_ea/saudi_hajj&cid=540&ncid=716)

MINA, Saudi Arabia - Nearly 250 Muslim worshipers died in a hajj stampede Sunday during the annual stoning of Satan ritual in one of the deadliest tragedies at the notoriously perilous ceremony.

The stampede, during a peak event of the annual Muslim pilgrimage, or hajj, lasted about a half-hour, Saudi officials said. There were 244 dead and hundreds of other worshippers injured, some critically, Hajj Minister Iyad Madani said.

"All precautions were taken to prevent such an incident, but this is God's will. Caution isn't stronger than fate," Madani said.

Most of the victims were pilgrims from inside the Saudi kingdom and many were not authorized to participate, he said.

In an effort to control the crowd of about 2 million, Saudi authorities sets quotas for pilgrims from each country and required its citizens to register.

The devil-stoning is the most animated ritual of the annual pilgrimage and often the most dangerous. Many pilgrims frantically throw rocks, shout insults or hurl their shoes at the pillars acts that are supposed to demonstrate their deep disdain for the devil. But clerics frown upon such action, saying it's un-Islamic.

Last year, 14 pilgrims were trampled to death during the ritual and 35 died in a 2001 stampede. In 1998, 180 pilgrims died.

The annual hajj, which began Thursday, climaxed Saturday as some 2 million Muslim pilgrims listened to Saudi Arabia's top cleric denounce terrorists, calling them an affront to Islam. However, he defended the kingdom's strict interpretation of the faith.

Sheik Abdul Aziz al-Sheik said in his sermon there were those who claim to be holy warriors, but were shedding Muslim blood and destabilizing the nation.

"Is it holy war to shed Muslim blood? Is it holy war to shed the blood of non-Muslims given sanctuary in Muslim lands? Is it holy war to destroy the possession of Muslims," he said, adding that their actions gave enemies an excuse to criticize Muslim nations.

A large number of the victims of suicide attacks in Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Iraq and elsewhere have been Muslims.

Al-Sheik, who is widely respected in the Arab world as the foremost cleric in the country considered the birthplace of Islam, spoke at Namira Mosque in a televised sermon watched by millions of Muslims in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states.

The mosque is close to Mount Arafat, where the Prophet Muhammad delivered his last sermon in 632.

In speaking about terrorists who killed fellow Muslims, al-Sheik was clearly referring to the prophet's final sermon, which contained the line: "Know that every Muslim is a Muslim's brother, and the Muslims are brethren. Fighting between them should be avoided."

Al-Sheik also criticized the international community, accusing it of attacking Wahhabism, the strict interpretation of Islam that is applied in Saudi Arabia: "This country is based on this religion and will remain steadfast on it."

After the sleepless night of prayer following the sermon, pilgrims gathered pebbles to throw at the pillars. Each threw seven times, chanting "bismillah" ("In the name of God") and "Allahu Akbar" ("God is Great").

Calling America "the greatest Satan," Egyptian pilgrim Youssef Omar threw pebbles at one pillar where someone scrawled "USA."

From there, some pilgrims took off to the nearby holy city Mecca to perform the main "Tawaf," or the circling of the holy stone known as the Kaaba.

Security has been high during the hajj, with thousands of police guarding the roads and temporary camp city of Mina. Helicopters monitored the crowd from the air.

The stoning ritual also marked the first day of Eid al-Adha, or the Feast of the Sacrifice, celebrated at the hajj and around the Muslim world with the slaughtering of a camel, cow or sheep. Meat is eaten and distributed to the poor.

The hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca required of all able-bodied Muslims at least once in a lifetime, is taking place after a series of suicide bombings and police shootouts with suspected terrorists in Saudi Arabia.

The bombings killed 51 people last year, including many Saudis, other Arabs and eight Americans. Muslims also have died in terror attacks in Turkey, Iraq, Morocco and elsewhere.

Thursday, January 12th, 2006, 09:23 PM
By SALAH NASRAWI, Associated Press Writer 43 minutes ago

MINA, Saudi Arabia - Thousands of Muslim pilgrims rushing to complete a symbolic stoning ritual during the hajj tripped over luggage Thursday, causing a crush in which at least 345 people were killed despite Saudi attempts to prevent stampedes that have plagued the annual event.

The stampede occurred as tens of thousands of pilgrims headed toward al-Jamarat, a series of three pillars representing the devil that the faithful pelt with stones to purge themselves of sin.
Interior Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Mansour al-Turki said 345 people were killed. More than 1,000 people were injured, said Dr. Abbasi with the Saudi Red Crescent.
Footage from the scene showed lines of bodies laid out on stretchers on the pavement and covered with sheets. Ahmed Mustafa, an Egyptian pilgrim, said he saw bodies taken away in refrigerator trucks.
An Egyptian pilgrim, Suad Abu Hamada, heard screaming and "saw people jumping over each other."
"The bodies were piled up. I couldn't count them, they were too many," she said.
The site is a notorious bottleneck for the massive crowds that attend the annual hajj pilgrimage and has seen deadly stampedes in the past, including one in 1990 that killed 1,426 people and another in February 2004 that killed 244. Seven of the past 17 yearly pilgrimages have seen deadly incidents at al-Jamarat.
The latest crush came despite Saudi attempts to ease the flow of traffic around al-Jamarat. This year's hajj was marred by the Jan. 5 collapse of a building being used as a pilgrims' hotel that killed 76 people in Mecca.
The stampede happened as pilgrims were rushing to complete the last of three days of the stoning ritual before sunset, said Interior Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Mansour al-Turki. Some of the pilgrims began tripping over dropped baggage, causing a large pileup, he said.
Many pilgrims carry their personal effects with them as they move between the various stages of the hajj.
Earlier, al-Turki said some baggage spilled from moving buses at one entrance to al-Jamarat, causing pilgrims to trip and pile up. However, no vehicles were allowed in the area where the stampede occurred.
Al-Turki said 345 people were killed. State-run Saudi television Al-Ekhbariyah reported that most of the victims were from South Asia. The Health Ministry said 289 people were injured.
The pillars are located on a large pedestrian bridge, the width of an eight-lane highway over the desert plain of Mina outside the holy city of Mecca. Four ramps lead up the bridge to give pilgrims access to the site, and the stampede occurred at the base of one ramp.
Mina General Hospital, a small facility several hundred yards from the site, was filled with injured, and some victims were sent to hospitals in Mecca and Riyadh, said Ismail Abdul-Zaher, a doctor at the hospital.
Ambulances and police cars streamed into the area, and security forces tried to move pilgrims away from part of the site, though thousands continued with the ritual.
The stampede took place despite Saudi efforts to improve traffic at the site, where all 2.5 million pilgrims participating in the annual hajj move from pillar to pillar to throw their stones, then exit.
Saudi authorities replaced the small round pillars with short walls to allow more people to throw their stones without jostling for position. The walls extend down through the bridge and protrude underneath, so pilgrims below can also carry out the stoning without going above.
Officials also recently widened the bridge, built extra ramps and increased the time pilgrims can carry out the rite which on the second and final days traditionally takes place from midday until sunset.
Shiite Muslim clerics have issued religious edicts allowing pilgrims to start the ritual in the morning, and many Shiites from Iraq (http://search.news.yahoo.com/search/news/?p=Iraq), Iran (http://search.news.yahoo.com/search/news/?p=Iran), Bahrain, Lebanon and Pakistan took advantage to go early in the day.
"This is much better. We are now done with the stoning before the crowd gets larger," an Iranian pilgrim, Azghar Meshadi, said hours before the stampede.
But Saudi Arabia's Sunni Muslim clerics, who follow the fundamentalist Wahhabi interpretation of Islam, encouraged pilgrims to stick to the midday rule.
About 60,000 Saudi troops have patrolled the Mina plain since the stoning ritual began Tuesday, intending to ensure a smooth flow of pilgrims. Helicopters fly overhead, and authorities monitor the pilgrims from a control room through closed-circuit television.
But often the police appeared overwhelmed, unable to manage the crowds a task complicated by peddlers selling food and souvenirs to the pilgrims and jamming up traffic. In theory, two of the ramps leading up to the pillars are for entry and two for exit, but pilgrims often ignore the rules and go up and down wherever they wish.
Signs giving directions to pilgrims many of whom are at the site for the first time are few.
The stoning ritual is one of the last events of the hajj pilgrimage to Islam's holiest sites, which able-bodied Muslims with the financial means are required by their faith to do at least once.
Many pilgrims had already finished the stoning ritual Thursday and had gone back to Mecca to carry out a farewell circuit around the Kaaba, the black stone cube that Muslims face when they do their daily prayers.

Friday, January 13th, 2006, 12:04 AM
At their attempt at stoning their satanic obelisk, those uncivilised creatures ended up crushing their own kinsmen. This is like some ironic metaphor of what fate awaits their kind. This happens almost every year if I'm not mistaken.

Friday, January 13th, 2006, 12:26 AM
That a few hundred die every year in small Mekka, where dozens of million Muslims go on their pilgrimage, is rather expected. Everywhere there's a big crowd in too little space there's casualties. The English football body counts during the 1980/1990's comes to my mind.

This Hajj tradition isn't something Islamically unique (Santiago de Compostella, a.e), but it's sure funny how religious fanatics literally walk over bodies just to complete their "mission". But I would call the above mentioned English football incidents just as wortless and uncivilised than Hajj casualties..and football is religion too.

Friday, January 13th, 2006, 01:58 AM
The only other religious festival or ceremony that I can think of where handfuls of people are trampled is in Amritsar, the Punjabi capital.

I have a soccer video that shows some tragic event during an Argentinian football game where 30 or so people were crushed to death by panicked crowds of hooligans. this is really obscene, but it won't stop me from going to Munich this summer.:D

Friday, January 13th, 2006, 12:43 PM
"The only other religious festival or ceremony that I can think of where handfuls of people are trampled is in Amritsar, the Punjabi capital."

That's another one...

OT: Didn't know Americans like football.. ;) Football stampedes aren't usual anymore in Europe (thank G*d for that!), and the Heysel/Hillsborough incidents made changes inevitable. Iran and Argentina are two of the worst football incident casualty countries, so I'm not surprised. One reason is that unlike in Europe, people still primarily fight on the stadium, not outside it.

Friday, January 13th, 2006, 01:05 PM
ridicules way to die