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Rantings of a Sandmonkey

Be forewarned: The writer of this blog is an extremely cynical, snarky, pro-US, secular, libertarian, disgruntled sandmonkey. If this is your cup of tea, please enjoy your stay here. If not, please sod off

Friday, January 13, 2006

Hajj stampede death toll reaches 363

This is tragic and yet kinda funny: Stricken families were hunting for their loved ones after a stampede that killed 362 Muslims at the annual hajj, a disaster Saudi authorities have blamed on unruly pilgrims. Weeping in front of a wall of pictures of dead pilgrims on Friday, families continued to seek news of missing relatives at the morgue in Mina, scene of the worst stampede during hajj since 1,426 pilgrims were killed in 1990. Riyadh has blamed the stampede on unruly pilgrims from outside officially-sanctioned operators during the ritual of the stoning of pillars symbolizing the devil. [...] Saudi Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz said in remarks published Friday by the Saudi-owned Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper that the stoning ceremony had been taking place for several days without problems."But what happened is that more than 12 people were carrying a large amount of baggage on their backs, so when it became too crowded they fell on the ground one on top of the other," he said."People kept falling one on top of the other until about 300 people died," he said. "Our pilgrim brothers are forbiden from carrying baggage and workloads on their shoulders during the stoning ritual." On Thursday, Saudi Health Minister Hamad bin Abdullah Al-Maneh said the stampede was caused by "unruly pilgrims, and a problem of luggage." Yes, 363 people dead because of a problem of luggage. 363 people dead and the Saudis are blaming the luggage! As if such stampede's didn't happen before -in say 2004, 2001 or 1998- or something. Ever hear of the arab saying "That's an excuse that's worse than the crime"? Well, that's exactly what that sounded like. But you are Saudi, so there is no way anyone will hold you accountable for anything, is there? Oh well, as my aunt said: "They died in the Hajj. There is no better death. That's like taking an express-lane to Heaven!" Right? Riiight!


At 1/13/2006 01:41:00 PM, Blogger The Sphinx said...

This is tragic and yet kinda funny

I'd leave out everything after the word tragic. There is nothing funny about this whole thing, even the reaction of the Saudis on the matter. You can call it lame or whatever, but tell somebody who has just lost his dad in the accident that this whole thing is kinda funny in a way. I think he won't be amused.

About the train to heaven thing.. I don't know if that was put in with a sarcastic undertone, but if so: Why not? If you believe that the Hajj purifies you from all your sins (which is after all what Prophet Mohammed said), plus that you died during worship, where else would you go except heaven?

Sorry to spoil your amusement SM, I just don't get it

At 1/13/2006 01:53:00 PM, Blogger The Sandmonkey said...

I guess the correct word is amusing and not funny? Cause even though I am not laughing at the deaths, I am kind of amused by the whole thing. You know, the repeated stampede's at that specific location, the saudis saying that the luggage are to blame and not them, even though this happens almost yearly, and my aunt telling me that those who died were "really lucky". I don't know. Maybe I have a weird sense of humor.

But I think you do get from my post that I am kind of pissed at the saudis for the deaths. No?

PS: nice job using the "would it be funny to tell someone that his father died in the acciodent?" bit. I like it; it's so beyond guilt, you know?

PPS: Wow, I can be an insenstive asshole sometimes, huh? Hmm...

At 1/13/2006 02:10:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Perhaps what's worse is that the Saudis pop off saying that this year everything will be safe with the Saudi interior ministry and their "special plan" for a smooth flow and the replacement of the old pillars with these new walls (there's a picture of that here: http://www.mentalmayhem.org/newswire/2006/01/hajj_ritual_see.html). They even got a special fatwa passed to allow a longer period for access. I think that was tempting fate to think that somehow they had this situation somehow under control.

At 1/13/2006 02:58:00 PM, Blogger Crazy Girl said...

So are the people that walked right over the people that died and no one bothered to stop and help the people that were dying, are they now purified? Because they committed the crime while they were doing hajj? I know I'm stating the obvious but come on people are doing hajj a religious pilgrimage and people push and shove one another.. Even if they did have luggage,does that make it their fault because people act like animals...Makes me think twice about ever going to hajj...

At 1/13/2006 03:50:00 PM, Blogger The Sphinx said...

If someone fell in front of you, you'll obviously stop to help them up.

But what if there are loads of people behind you that don't stop because they have no idea what's going on? (Yes, it's hard for the people at the back of the croud to see that a couple of people fell somewhere at the front).
In such a croud it's not possible to just stop, let alone help anyone up to their feet. Anyone who stops gets trampled themselves, which is probably the reason why many people died. They either tripped up on the people on the ground, or they tried to stop as to avoid stepping over them.

I wouldn't call it a crime, but simply a bad accident. Nobody wanted it to happen.

At 1/13/2006 04:22:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is very funny indeed. I can picture a satirical TV series where people make Hajj more dangerous so that more people die and take that express lane! Shows you how absurd Muslims are with their fatalist mindset. They have a justification for every tragedy, how else can you maintain your belief in an all powerful and kind God in these situations.

At 1/13/2006 05:05:00 PM, Blogger Crazy Girl said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 1/13/2006 05:06:00 PM, Blogger Crazy Girl said...

Well it shouldn't be so crowded.. They should make it so that even less people are allowed there at a time.. But let me guess they cant do that... someone would loose some money...Arabs makes exceptions to every rule.. Since people are so busy coming out with new fatwas.. Why not make it possible for people to make hajj more than once a year.. You know to save lives.. I don't get it.. So we know that its crowded and its possible for people to die.. Isn't just one life worth saving? Why not lower the amounts of people there.. I'm sure Allah wouldn't want people dying just because they went on hajj to pray

At 1/13/2006 07:17:00 PM, Anonymous Jokerman said...

Hey sandy, have you ever been in a small area infested with humans, such that your feet werent touching the ground? Im not talking about the tube or any damn bus. I once nearly got crushed to death & saw the horror with my own eyes back in 1986 in the final of the African Nations cup, after the game the police on horses cordoned the whole area because , surprise surprise, mubarak was there & yes, if one had fallen, there is no way you could do anything but fall down & if you did fall down, God have mercy on your soul. till today i dont know how i managed to get to a pickup car parked which was crushed by the crowds who jumped over it to the wall next to it to the street. Yes luggage would have done it easily, any pilgrim stopping or tripping even would trigger it seeing as the figures at that time exceeded a million & a half, so im with the saudis on this, call it destiny, call it fate, call it whatever you do but sometimes it is just unstoppable....ther solution? i think is to have a limit of one million per pilgrimage season not those colossal numbers & definitely no to those who have done it before to make the pilgrimage a better one than each year reading about fatalities & then saying they are off to heaven!

At 1/13/2006 09:30:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The whole exercise seems rather bizarre to myself - very strange what people believe. Regardless, being trampled to death is tragic and rather senseless, and since these people who died probably didn't make it to the stoning wall to have their sins removed, does this mean they ended up in the "express-lane" to hell instead? - just wondering...not really, just being facetious...my bad!


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At 1/14/2006 11:09:00 AM, Blogger Um Haleema said...

'But what if there are loads of people behind you that don't stop because they have no idea what's going on?'

Why do they have to know what's going on? Why were they in such a hurry that they have to push and shove when it is obvious that those ahead of them are NOT moving? I could understand it if there was a fire and their life was at stake or if the newly opening IKEA is giving out $500 coupons to the first in the store. These deaths can only be blamed on the uncivilized people that push and shove in crowds.

At 1/14/2006 01:44:00 PM, Blogger Dr. FM said...

It`s very easy SM to sit on your chair & critisize others.
Have you ever tried to perform Hajj?
Have you tried to organize at least 100 people at one time in one place?
Come on I have seen what Saudis are doing every year to organize this event, they start planning for the next year from the end of this year.
At the end `` not who has seen is equal to who has heard``
My advice to you is to do Hajj if you can & see why this happened for yourself, & I am really afraid that you might be similar to those carrying the luggage & running without caring for others.

At 1/14/2006 10:59:00 PM, Blogger Papa Ray said...

When ever there is a very large group of people gathered together, its not hard for emotions to get out of hand and mob mentality to kick in.

Just go to any concerts or sports games long enough and you will see what I mean.

This "event" is extreme. Exteme amount of people, extreme emotions.

Its a disaster waiting to happen. As proven almost every year.

And all for a "religion" started by a very dangerous and misguided man.

It's amazing.

Papa Ray
West Texas

At 1/15/2006 12:41:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You mean the Saudis make money on the Hajj? Isn't that sacreligious or something?
It's understandable how such a tragedy could occur,as even at much smaller events like soccer games,there have been people crushed by the crowds.
Isn't it sort of ironic that the pilgrims died while attempting to stone the devil?Perhaps the only one laughing is the devil himself.

At 1/18/2006 05:53:00 AM, Anonymous Jokerman said...

Papa ray
I wish your sort would be objective & learn something but i guess not. Misguided & dangerous you call the guy who started the religion, yeah right...well from that perspective you would have to call Moses as reckless Insurgent who failed to take the people he led from egypt to the land he promised them, not to mention they got fed up with him & they got lost in sinai for over 40 years. & what about jesus then, what sort of man teaches you to love your enemy? & to turn the other cheek if you got hit on one? what kind of man preaches about love & wasnt interested in women huh?
If youre an atheist papadimpleray,keep your stupid remarks to yourself, cos if you think its your right to say whatever you did, then it´s sure mine aswell.

At 1/18/2006 05:42:00 PM, Anonymous Mohamed said...

Amen to that Jokerman.


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