SHAFAQNA – As outrage against Saudi Arabia’s mis-management of the Hajj has grown exponentially, the kingdom has been keen to deflect blame by offering media outlets an alternative scapegoat, hoping to manipulate the public opinion via a well-funded propaganda campaign.
Over the past few days, Saudi Arabia’s media have gone to great length to blame both the pilgrims and Iran for the Mina tragedy. Riyadh’s argument is that pilgrims failed to comply with police orders, thus putting people’s safety in jeopardy.
While such allegations might hold some merit, we know them to be untrue. And though Saudi Arabia might have enrolled the help of so-called prominent and well-established news outlet – Asharq Al Awsat for example, a London-based pan-Arab newspaper, truths cannot be so easily buried under fancy rhetoric.
Asharq Al Awsat daily claimed that 300 Iranian pilgrims caused the Mina accident, as they allegedly moved against the crowd, thus provoking pilgrims to panic.
Interestingly, and rather conveniently the newspaper’s only source has yet to be identified.
Worse, testimonies on the ground are painting a very different pictures.
No one group was to blame for the Mina accident – management was to blame however. Riyadh simply failed to put in place appropriate security measures, preferring instead to cater for its elite. In complete negation of hajj’s principles, Al Saud royals have offered its rich and mighty access to VIP areas. It is because certain individuals were cordoned off from the crowd, that pilgrims saw certain roads closed off – leading to overcrowding.
Speaking to ABNA a pilgrim noted, “Unfortunately, Saudi Arabia is responsible! The Saudi police blocked the road, forcing people to move in a very small and closed up road. They sent most of Hajj pilgrims on Street 204, but unfortunately that street was closed out! Police then called on those people in the front to sit adn wait. When they sat down those behind thought the way had been opened up and as a result moved forth. People began tripping over one another and mayhem ensued.”
Iran and Iranian pilgrims had nothing to do with the tragedy. If anything Iranians paid the highest price … 300 of its pilgrims are still unaccounted for!
As Saudi Arabia is turning this tragedy into a political war of words, it might be time for Muslims to demand that an inquiry be held.
Mecca and Medina belong to Islam, those holy cities are not anyone’s property.