Several Islamic countries have suggested in the past years that the Hajj affairs should be handled through an international organization due to Saudi Arabia’s failure in dealing with the matter as proved by a number of incidents.
Speaking to Saudi daily Asharq Al-Awsat on Tuesday, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques and Governor of the Makkah region Prince Khalid al-Faisal reacted to such proposals, claiming that the only concerns he has for the pilgrimage is its “exploitation for non-religious purposes.”
“Saudi Arabia rejects all forms of politicization of the Hajj. We will not tolerate transforming this majestic holy rite into a political platform,” he stressed.
“We are proud of serving our duty for Muslims, regardless of any other factors,” he added.
“All pilgrims are warmly welcomed in the Kingdom as stipulated by our Islamic values,” Prince Khalid claimed, adding that Saudi Arabia approaches the pilgrims as pilgrims and caters to their needs from whatever nationality they come.
However, several incidents in the past years disprove his words.
After tightening its diplomatic ties with Iran and Qatar, the Kingdom has put numerous restrictions on the two countries’ nationals coming for Hajj, though the prince said on Tuesday that the restrictions in the number of pilgrims coming from certain countries, including Iran, have nothing to the with the Saudis.
Besides, Saudi Arabia sets Hajj prices depending on the pilgrim’s nationality.
The Makkah governor also added, “We take everything into account, but also ensure the safety of the pilgrims and offer them all possible facilitations to ensure their holy journey takes place smoothly.”
But history tells us something different!
In September 2015, a deadly human crush occurred during Hajj rituals in Mina, near Mecca. Days into the incident, Saudi Arabia published a death toll of 770 but refused to update it.
Unofficial sources, based on individual reports from countries whose nationals had been among the victims of the crash, put the death toll at almost 7,000 people.
Iran said about 465 of its nationals lost their lives in the incident.
Earlier that month, a massive construction crane operated by the Saudi Binladin Group conglomerate collapsed onto Mecca’s Grand Mosque, killing more than 100 pilgrims, including 11 Iranians, and injuring over 200 others, 32 of them from Iran.
- source : Mehrnews