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President Rouhani Warns S. Arabia over Mina Cartoons

30 September 2015 6:06


Iranian President Hassan Rouhani warned Riyadh that animations and cartoons of the Mina stampede tragedy released by the Saudi media is an insult to all Muslims.
“I referred to this point in my two speeches at the UN General Assembly meeting and the annual conference that in our view, the incident is not natural and normal and cannot be compensated by money and it is more important than what is stated now,” Rouhani told reporters in Tehran on Tuesday after returning from New York where he participated in the UN General Assembly meeting.

“Saudi Arabia should act upon its legal and international responsibilities vis a vis the foreign nationals and Hajj pilgrims and the aspects of the incident should be clarified precisely,” he added.

“The Saudi media display animations instead of showing the footages of reality (of what happened in Mina), and this is an insult to the Islamic societies,” Rouhani said.

A stampede during one of the last rituals of the Hajj season killed more than 2,000 people and left 2,000 wounded on Thursday.

The stampede occurred during the ritual known as “stoning the devil” in the tent city of Mina, about two miles from Mecca.

At least 239 Iranians have lost their lives in the incident, while 150 others have been wounded. The latest reports said 26 Iranian pilgrims are still hospitalized in Saudi Arabia, while others have either died or been treated and left the hospital, preparing to come back to home.

Supreme Leader of the Islamic Ummah and Oppressed People Imam Sayyed Ali Khamenei declared three days of national mourning over the death of the pilgrims.

In his message on Thursday evening the Leader of the Islamic Ummah and Oppressed People Imam Sayyed Ali Khamenei 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, Leader of the Islamic Ummah and Oppressed People Imam Sayyed Ali 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,” the Supreme Leader 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”.

On Thursday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in a message to First Vice-President Eshaq Jahangiri issued special orders for following up the Mina incident.

The Iranian president in his message condoled with families of the victims of Hajj stampede in Mina.

“The regretful and sorrowful tragic incident of death and injury of Iranian Hajj pilgrims on the threshold of my arrival in New York imposed heavy sorrow on me and the accompanying delegation,” President Rouhani said in his message.

President Rouhani pointed to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei’s declaration of three-day national mourning in Iran for death of over 130 Iranian Hajj pilgrims and injury of many others, and said, “This is the least that we can do for the families of the victims of Mina incident.

President Rouhani reiterated that the Iranian Foreign Ministry and the Iranian Ambassador to Riyadh are duty-bound to investigate the cause of the incident and take all the necessary measures to help to revival of the rights of the victims and injured of the incident, and said, “I ask the Saudi government to fulfill its legal and Islamic duties concerning this issue while shouldering the responsibility.”

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 350 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 on Thursday.

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 on Thursday, 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 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 Seyed Ali Qazi 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.

This is the third incident in the Hajj rituals this year.

In the first incident, a crane crash over the Grand Mosque of Mecca killed over 100 and injured hundreds more two weeks ago.

Ten days before the start of Hajj this year, a construction crane crashed through the roof of the Grand Mosque in Mecca, killing 107 people. At least 238 others suffered injuries when a powerful storm toppled the crane.

A week later, a fire incident at a Mecca hotel claimed the lives of several other pilgrims.

A Saudi analyst said on the condition of anonymity for the fear of his life that the two stampede and crane crash incidents were the result of rivalries between a part of the Saudi police and security service and Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud to display that the Saudi king and crown prince are incompetent and unable to handle the Hajj ceremony.

Rivalries are tough and deep among different royal families who are all descendant of the Al-Saud and see themselves entitled to the thrown. The present king is the first from Sodayri family of Al-Saudi to have ascended to power.

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