Saudi mufti says authorities not to blame for Hajj tragedy

Saudi Arabia's grand mufti says Hajj stampede tragedy was beyond human control and Saudi officials are not responsible

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

The Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Aziz al-Sheikh - Archive

Saudi Arabia’s grand mufti said that the Hajj stampede which killed more than 700 pilgrims was beyond human control, and the Saudi officials are not to blame for the tragedy.

The grand mufti told Saudi Arabia's crown prince: "You are not responsible for what happened." Grand mufti met the Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Nayef in Mina on Friday.

Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Aziz al Sheikh is Saudi Arabia's top religious authority.

Crown Prince and Interior Minister Mohammed bin Nayef - Archive

The deadly stampede was one of the worst disasters in the history of Hajj.

Saudi Arabian King Salman, ordered an instant review of Hajj safety plans on Thursday in a televised speech, following the incident that killed over 700 people and injured almost 1,000 from various nationalities.

"As for the things that humans cannot control, you are not blamed for them. Fate and destiny are inevitable," said the grand mufti.

Saudi Arabia’s crown prince is also the minister of interior, and chairs the Saudi Hajj committee.


Criticism is still flowing Saudi Arabia’s way, many witnesses and activists blamed the Saudi police for closing off roads that are normally left open, and poor management.

Muslim pilgrims walks on a bridge as they head to cast stones at pillars symbolizing Satan during the annual haj pilgrimage in Mina, on the second day of Eid al-Adha, near the holy city of Mecca September 25, 2015.

Saudi Interior Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Mansour al Turki told reporters on Thursday that, they had witnessed an unprecedented number of pilgrims at the time of the incident, and said  “The reason for that is not known yet."

However, Saudi Arabia's Minister of Health Khaled al-Falih blamed "undisciplined pilgrims" for the deadly stampede.

Al Falih said the tragedy could have been avoided had the worshippers followed instructions. The ministry launched a hotline to answer questions regarding the incident.

"If the pilgrims had followed instructions, this type of accident could have been avoided." Al Falih told Saudi state TV.

Abdullah al-Sheikh, chairman of the Shura Council, stressed that pilgrims must stick to "the rules and regulations taken by the security personnel... In doing so, they protect their lives, their security and facilitate their performing of the rituals."

Riyadh's regional rival Iran, confirmed 131 of its nationals had died in the stampede, the highest number from any country.

Worshipers chant slogans during a protest against Saudi Arabia after Thursday's crush that killed 131 Iranians at the haj pilgrimage, following Friday prayers in Tehran September 25, 2015.

Several African countries also confirmed that their citizens had died in the stampede, as did India, Indonesia, Pakistan and the Netherlands. Moroccan media stated 87 of its nationals had been killed.

"Saudi Arabia is incapable of organising the pilgrimage," said Ayatollah Mohammad Emami Kashani, during Friday prayers in Tehran.

"The running of the Hajj must be handed over to various Islamic states," said Kashani.

In the same time, many international forces expressed deep condolences and announced solidarity with the Kingdom, including Gulf countries, Egypt, Turkey, Pope Francis, the UN’s Ban Ki-Moon, and the US.



TRTWorld and agencies