Sanusi rejects Saudi blame of African pilgrims …. NATION

Sanusi rejects Saudi blame of African pilgrims

Nigeria’s Amir Ul Hajj, Alhaji Muhammadu Sanusi, has disputed claims by the Saudi authorities that African pilgrims were largely responsible for the stampede that caused the death of 725 pilgrims in Mecca on Thursday.

Sanusi who is also the Emir of Kano and a respected voice on Islamic affairs told the Saudi Arabia “not to apportion blame to the pilgrims” for the incident.

The victims were crushed to death and more than 850 other injured when two groups of pilgrims arrived at crossroads on Street 204 at the tent city of Mina.

Shortly after the incident, Saudi prince Khaled al-Faisal, head of the Central Hajj Committee, stirred outrage as he blamed African pilgrims for the deadly stampede.

Al-Faial who is the Saudi Health Minister said:”The investigations into the incident of the stampede that took place today in Mina, which was perhaps because some pilgrims moved without following instructions by the relevant authorities, will be fast and will be announced as has happened in other incidents.”

Emir Sanusi who attended the committee meeting said after the meeting that pilgrims who complete the ritual should not cross those who are approaching the holy site.

“They should not cross each other. We are therefore urging the Saudi authorities not to apportion blame to the pilgrims for not obeying instruction,” he said in a statement.

Iran,arch-enemy of the Saudi Royal Family,insisted that Riyadh “must accept responsibility for this.”

“The unavoidable fact is that the Saudi government has been incompetent in this regard and with regard to the management of the Hajj pilgrimage, and Riyadh must accept responsibility for this,” spokesman for Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, Keyvan Khosravi, reportedly told the Iranian news agency,FARS.

It said:“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 that has so far claimed the lives of 1,300 in Mina, near Mecca, on Thursday.

“The large convoy of Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud, the King’s son and deputy crown prince, that was escorted by over 3,500 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.”

“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.

“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 haves been closed.”

The stampede was the worst incident to occur in Mecca during the hajj since 1990, when 1,426 pilgirms, many from Indonesia, Pakistan and Malaysia, were killed in a stampede in a pedestrian tunnel. Following another stampede in 2006, in which more than 300 people died, the Jamarat bridge and some pillars were demolished and reconstructed.