Saudi Authorities: Please Don't Blame Africans; A Prince is Alleged to be Behind the Stampede
A Nigeria just sent me this via WhatsApp after receiving this post:
" Clearly sir, because I am witness to the blockage. We were blocked and our route diverted from the main road through smaller routes from which those coming from Jamrat were returning. The congestion created a standstill as both crowds in opposite direction were trying to gain passage. The heat is overbearing and breathing became a problem. Some of us only managed to get through before stampede occured."
I am an ardent supporter of Saudi Arabia in its continuous effort to make Hajj hitch-free. In fact, I can't imagine a better effort than theirs if the Hajj were to take place in Egypt, Iran, Nigeria or Pakistan. Allah, I now believe, has endowed them with wealth, perhaps, specifically to empower them for this function in which they are doing their best.
I only find it difficult to appreciate how the Saudi authorities are shifting the blame to pilgrims by accusing the latter of refusing to follow instructions on exit from the stoning site while actually their officials diverted the pilgrims after blocking two of the exit routes when a prince arrived with a large entourage, as reported by some papers in the Middle East. The Saudis themselves did not deny such report; they only said them as "incorrect".
Though one must always be careful not to fall into the trap of Saudi-Iran rivalry - for I am neitjer a Saudi jor an Iranian; I am a Nigerian - it is difficult imagine how pilgrims will return through the entrance routes if the exits were not blocked. It's almost impossible. This has been corroborated by BBC Hausa reporters yesterday afternoon who placed the fault squarely on the Saudis.
Pushing the buck to the same pilgrims that lost their brothers is unfair to say the least especially when a mistake like blocking exit routes was done. Owning up to a mistake is a sign of responsibility and declining to do so is cowardice and dishonesty.
We pray that God would continue to guide the Saudi authorities in their organisation of Hajj and endow them more with the wealth, wisdom and sense of responsibility they need in executing their mandate as custodians of the holy mosques.
Meanwhile, a veteran journalist, Hajiya Bilkisu Yusuf, is also reported to be among the dead. May her soul rest in perfect peace until the Day of Judgement and beyond. We will follow them soon, for nothing is as certain in our lives as death. That's why God mentioned it first before life:
"(Blessed is the One) who created death and life that he tests you, who among you is best in deed. And He is able over everything."
Dr. Aliyu U. Tilde