Senior Cleric Blames Saudi Regime’s Mismanagement as Cause of Mina Incident
Tehran’s provisional Friday Prayers Leader Ayatollah Mohammad Emami Kashani blasted the Riyadh government’s lack of proper management for the tragic incident of Hajj stampede in Mina, Mecca.
Addressing a large and fervent congregation of the people on Tehran University campus on Friday, Ayatollah Emami Kashani said, “The Mina incident showed Al Saud’s incapability to administer the Hajj pilgrimage.”
“As Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei has said the Saudi government should accept the responsibility and this is a lie to say that the pilgrims’ disorder has resulted in the stampede,” he added.
A stampede during one of the last rituals of the Hajj season killed more than 2,000 people and left 2,000 wounded.
The stampede occurred during the ritual known as “stoning the devil” in the tent city of Mina, about two miles from Mecca.
Some 131 Iranians have also lost their lives in the incident, while 150 others have been wounded.
Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei declared three days of national mourning over the death of the pilgrims.
In his message on Thursday evening the Iranian Leader expressed condolences to the bereaved families of all those killed in the incident, specially the Iranians, and declared three days of national mourning in the country.
Meantime, Ayatollah Khamenei blasted the Saudi government, saying that Riyadh should accept its responsibility for “mismanagement” and adoption of “improper measures”.
“Mismanagement and improper measures that caused this tragedy should not be overlooked,” he said, stressing that “the Saudi government is required to accept its heavy responsibility for this bitter incident and meet its obligations in compliance with the rule of righteousness and fairness”.
Meantime, Iranian lawmakers said that the Parliament is planning to investigate the stampede incident.
“The parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission will hold a special session to discuss the stampede in Mecca,” member of the parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission Mohammad Reza Mohseni Sani told reporters.
He noted that the parliament’s commission will discuss the Mina incident in its upcoming meeting.
Mohseni Sani blamed the Saudi officials for the disorder which resulted in the death of hundreds of Hajj pilgrims, and urged the Iranian Judiciary and Foreign Ministry to pursue the case.
Sources revealed that the convoy of Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Crown Prince and Defense Minister Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud caused panic among millions of pilgrims and started the stampede.
“The large convoy of Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud, the King’s son and deputy crown prince, that was escorted by over 3,50 security forces, including 200 army men and 150 policemen, sped up the road to go through the pilgrims that were moving towards the site of the ‘Stoning the Devil’ ritual, causing panic among millions of pilgrims who were on the move from the opposite direction and caused the stampede,” several Arab papers, including the Arabic language al-Dyar newspaper, disclosed on Thursday evening.
“That’s why the ruler of Mecca has distanced himself from the case, stressing that the issue should be studied and decided by the King,” it added.
No other source has yet confirmed the report, but observers said the revelation explains why two of the roads to the ‘Stoning the Devil’ site has been closed.
Eye witnesses said earlier that the Saudi police and security forces had closed two of the few roads to the stone column that were to be used by millions of pilgrims to do the ‘Stoning the Devil’ ritual today.
Saeed Ohadi, the head of Iran’s Hajj organization, accused Saudi Arabia of safety errors and mismanagement.
He said for “unknown reasons” the paths had been closed off near the scene of the symbolic stoning of the devil ritual where the accident later took place.
“This caused this tragic incident,” he told the Iranian state television.
Eyewitness accounts said that even after incident the Saudi security and military forces closed all paths leading to the scene and the bodies of pilgrims have piled up on each other.
Others blamed Riyadh for mismanagement of Hajj ceremony, adding that many of the wounded pilgrims are dying of the hot weather conditions, which reached 46 degrees centigrade today, while police and the army have closed access roads to the site of the incident making the relief and rescue operations and trafficking of ambulances very difficult.
Pilgrims present on the scene are also complaining about insufficient number of medical teams and centers. Reports said hospitals are overwhelmed by the the large number of the wounded.
Twelve hours after the incident, the dead body of hundreds of those killed in the stampede are still piled up out in the streets.
Head of the Iranian pilgrims Qazai Askar in an interview with the state TV on Thursday evening complained that the Saudi officials do not allow other countries’ relief and rescue squads to help.
“They have even prevented us from aiding our own pilgrims,” he complained with surprise.