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Saudi callousness causes hundreds of deaths at this year’s Hajj

The Saudis’ legendary incompetence and callousness caused the death of hundreds of pilgrims at this year’s Hajj. People were left to die on the side of the road as Saudi officials walked by.

Hundreds of hujjaj have died of heat stroke during this year’s Hajj.

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The total number was put at 577 as of June 18 evening, of which 323 were Egyptians.

The actual number may be much higher as not missing persons have been accounted for.

In the overwhelming majority of cases, heat stroke was mentioned as the cause of death.

Temperatures in Makkah soared to 50 degrees Celsius and unfortunately many were left without shelter.

Lack of water, thereby dehydration, was also a factor.

The breakdown of dead pilgrims’ countries was given as follows: 60 Jordanians, 37 Indonesians and 35 Tunisians, according to the Tunisia’s foreign ministry.

Pilgrims from Pakistan, Iran and Senegal also died although their exact numbers are not known.

The Saudi national meteorology centre said that on June 17, temperatures in Makkah’s Grand Mosque had reached 51.8 degrees Celsius.

While no further updates were provided, it needs to be borne in mind that pilgrims have to walk barefoot and without head covering (for men) except for an umbrella, in the Haram.

Videos shared on social media showed scores of pilgrims lying lifeless on the side of roads in the scorching heat in Mina.

When pilgrims approached Saudi officials or medical personnel for help, they just shrugged their shoulders and walked away.

Relatives of the dead pilgrims sat next to the corpses until an ambulance arrived to pick up the bodies and take them to the morgue.

Most pilgrims expressed dismay at Saudi callousness and lack of help or support when they were in distress.

Some Saudi and Emirati pilgrims even grabbed the tents reserved for Pakistani pilgrims in Mina.

They used them to store luggage while the Pakistani pilgrims were forced to sleep in the open.

Obviously, Saudi luggage has more value than pilgrims, especially from Pakistan whom they consider as miskeen.

For years, Saudi callousness and incompetence have caused avoidable deaths of pilgrims.

True, there are millions of pilgrims but by now the Saudis should have gained enough experience to manage large crowds.

That assumes that they want to care for them.

There are high speed trains that are supposed to transport pilgrims from Makkah to Mina and Arafat.

Many trains were not only cancelled, the Saudis even shut down the train stations where pilgrims could have taken shelter from the sweltering heat.

The Saudis simply do not care.

It is time the Muslims take stock of this grim situation and divest the control of Hajj from the clutches of the Saudi Bedouins.

They are unfit to administer the affairs of Hajj.

If they have learned nothing in 92 years of managing the affairs of Hajj, they cannot be left in control of this major Islamic obligation any longer.

The Muslim world has many competent managers and other professionals and the necessary empathy for the well-being of pilgrims to manage these affairs properly without heart-breaking disasters every year.

It is extremely distressing, and annoying, to see incompetent Saudis simply shrug their shoulders when asked for help.

The Saudis do not own the Haramayn (Makkah and al-Madinah).

They are thieves and bandits and should be treated as such.

Zafar Bangash