Wed Oct 7, 2015 10:13AM
The bodies of some of the pilgrims killed in a stampede are lined up, in Mina, near the Saudi city of Mecca, on 24 September 2015.
The bodies of some of the pilgrims killed in a stampede are lined up, in Mina, near the Saudi city of Mecca, on 24 September 2015.

On September 24 , 2015, Millions turn out to mourn the crushing to death of Iranian and other Haj pilgrims in Saudi Arabia.

It all happened on September 24 in Mina, also known as the Tent City, situated 5 kilometers to the east of the Holy city of Mecca. There are four main avenues in the tent city to accommodate hundreds of thousands of pilgrims who walk from Mina, creating one of the most congested pedestrian flows in the world.

One of these avenues was blockaded by Saudi guards which led to a deadly stampede. It happened only 13 days after a massive construction crane collapsed into Mecca’s Grand Mosque, killing nearly 110 people and injuring about 400 more.

Every year, about two million Muslims make a pilgrimage to Mecca while unfortunately Saudi Arabia proves its ineptitude in handling Haj every single year. 

Mashar and Mina are located at a distance of nearly 3.5 kilometers from each other. There is another 5-kilometer distance from the entrance of the Mina Valley to the disaster area which was near the Jamarat Bridge.

This means that the pilgrims have already walked nearly 8.5 kilometers and been extremely exhausted when, on their way back to Jamarat, surprisingly enough, they found Street 204 blockaded by Saudi guards. A suffocating overcrowd of pilgrims was created as a result. Given the climatic heat of over 44 degrees centigrade and the suffocating humidity in the valley a few pilgrims sat down to rest their legs, but were trampled by the crowd who fell in a domino style, piling more people on them.

The death toll from the overcrowding was revised several times, ranging from 1,000 to 4,700. With 464 pilgrims, Iran lost more people to the crush than any other country.  News of the incident sent shockwaves across Iran.

Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei declared three days of mourning and lashed out at the Sunni Kingdom for dodging its responsibility. He even went so far as threatening Riyadh with “tough and harsh” action if it didn’t make good on its obligations.

In the wake of the deadly incidents this year, and to prevent future tragedies, commentators, and officials from Muslim countries that send pilgrims to Mecca every year came up with a new idea. They are saying that the administration of Mecca and Medina as well as the management of the Hajj pilgrimage should be handed over to a coalition of Muslim leaders or a committee of Muslim states.