An estimated 2 million Muslims will gather in Saudi Arabia next week for the hajj, which will feature the return of pilgrims from Iran, whose government boycotted the event in recent years after a 2015 stampede that killed hundreds of Iranians.
Saudi Arabia has denied Tehran’s claims that Iranian pilgrims were being hindered from performing Hajj, which this year will fall in September.
The dispute worsened after Iran demanded that its pilgrims be allowed to perform certain rituals during the pilgrimage.
What ‘certain rituals”?
In all of these incidents, spokesmen for the government blamed “divine” predetermination.
Unfortunately, the Saudis put forward a theological directive that to die in Mecca during the hajj is a “blessing,” and people will sometimes abandon personal safety for faith, creating dangerous situations for those like myself who aren’t particularly interested in dying. As a new mother on the pilgrimage, I knew that I didn’t want to lose my son to human caprice after I had overcome so much to bring him into the world. But I had chosen to take the risk, over the more sensible protests of my mother and friends.
UPDATE: Look, here’s another one. Are these people trying to get their babies dead?
The head of the committee which oversees the hajj pilgrimage has sparked outrage by blaming pilgrims of ‘African nationalities’ for the stampede which killed more than 700 people.
In what was the worst disaster in a quarter-century to strike the annual event, 769 people died two days ago when the stampede broke out in Mina, about three miles from Mecca, during the symbolic stoning of the devil ritual.
The inflammatory comments come as authorities were heavily criticised for a perceived lapse in safety measures at what is one of the world’s largest pilgrimages.
The Iranians “should know better than to play politics with a tragedy”, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir told reporters on Saturday.
Riyadh has ordered an investigation into the incident that killed 769 people on Thursday, during the annual hajj pilgrimage that draws millions of Muslim pilgrims from around the world.
The kingdom “will reveal the facts when they emerge. And we will not hold anything back. If mistakes were made, who made them will be held accountable,” Al-Jubeir said while meeting the US Secretary of State John Kerry in New York.
“And we will make sure that we will learn from this and we will make sure that it doesn’t happen again,” the minister added, urging Iranian leaders to wait for the investigation results.
Earlier on Saturday, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani called for an inquiry into the incident while addressing a UN development summit. Tehran also vowed international legal action against the Saudis over the deadly stampede.
‘Commander of Haj forces in the Makkah police, Maj. Gen. Abdulaziz bin Othman Al-Souli announced the capture of violators at checkpoints who were trying to enter Makkah and the Holy Mashair in female clothing.
He confirmed to local media that around 123,950 people were turned back for not having Haj permits along with more than 36,000 vehicles that were not authorized to enter the Mashair, in addition to 1,340 who transported violators’
Eh, why not:
An award-winning Muslim documentary-maker and prominent LBGT activist said he received death threats ahead of the premier at the Hot Docs festival in Toronto earlier this week of his film, A Sinner in Mecca, which follows his personal experiences during a religious pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia.
India-born Parvez Sharma, who is openly gay, filmed his trip to Mecca for the hajj, a pilgrimage to the holy city which Muslim believers are required to go on at least once in their lifetimes. The film deals with the conflict between Sharma’s sexuality and his faith.
According to the Guardian, Sharma received “a barrage of hate mail” from Muslim countries before the film was even screened on April 29, “including direct threats.” The threats prompted the organizers of the festival to heighten security measures for the screening.
Some examples of the abuse are published on the film’s website. “How dare you call yourself a Muslim, while you have commented [sic] the biggest sin ever?” wrote one poster…
We posted on him a few days ago.
There seems to be no middle ground: either gays are detested — even killed — or they form groups that become obnoxiously demanding. Can’t we just tolerate them without them or us making a huge fuss?
Crowds at Mount Arafat.
The hajj pilgrimage is a religious duty for all Muslims, performed in the holy city of Mecca, which, along with Medina, is part of Saudi Arabia’s Hejaz region. Rifat Sait, a Turkish parliament member from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), was among those who made this year’s pilgrimage in early October. Back home, he made intriguing comments. Sait grumbled that Saudi Arabia failed in municipal services, that Mount Arafat was filthy and that historical monuments were in a bad state. As a solution, he called for a Vatican-like administration of the Hejaz by Muslim countries during the hajj season.
“Hajj pilgrims face serious problems. Cleanness is a fundamental tenet in Islam. But Mount Arafat lacks even proper toilets. Any contagious disease there could affect all pilgrims, who, in turn, would take it to their own countries. Diseases could spread across the world,” Sait said. “Hejaz’s administration cannot be left to the Saudi state alone during the hajj season. The region should be like the Vatican. During the hajj period, it should be under the joint administration of Muslim countries, including Turkey.”
Stressing that historical monuments in the region were in danger, the lawmaker said he would convey his complaints to the Saudi Embassy in Ankara and suggested that UNESCO’s help should be sought to protect the region’s heritage.
A similar Turkish proposal had surfaced in March 2011 in a leaked US cable the daily Taraf unearthed from the WikiLeaks trove and published under the headline, “Mecca can become Vatican for $10 million”…
Nice to see them fighting with each other. The Vatican comparison is odd, considering that it does not represent all Christians by any means and does not solicit outside opinions on its behaviour. But it gets more respect — even from non-Catholics — than the Saudi royal family.
Still, Christianity is on the whole more ‘organized’ than Islam, and that is because their ‘prophet’ did not want priests.
DHAKA, Bangladesh—The government removed a senior minister from his post over the weekend after he made controversial comments about the value of one of the pillars of Islam, the Hajj pilgrimage.
Abdul Latif Siddique lost his job as minister for post and telecommunications, after telling a gathering of Bangladeshis in New York in September that the Hajj was a “massive waste of manpower.” Mr. Siddique was in the U.S. as part of an official delegation led by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
Mr. Siddique was removed by a presidential order Sunday evening after Ms. Hasina requested that President Abdul Hamid terminate his appointment, cabinet secretary Musharraf Hossain Bhuiyan said.
MINA, Saudi Arabia, Oct 4 (Reuters) – Taking aim at Islamic State, Saudi Arabia has mounted a battle for hearts and minds at this year’s haj, warning pilgrims that the hardline group is “evil” and seeking to recruit their children to fight in Iraq and Syria…
Although Islamic State, like al Qaeda, draws some of its ideology from the Wahhabi school, it rejects the legitimacy of the Saudi government and has vowed to topple the ruling Al Saud dynasty.
Riyadh also fears that thousands of Saudis who have gone to fight with Islamic State will return to target their own country.
“Your religion is targeted. Your security, ideology, strength and intellect are all targeted,” the kingdom’s Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdulaziz Al al-Sheikh (pictured above) preached to the vast crowds of pilgrims in Mecca on Friday.
About three million Muslims, among them 1.4 million from abroad, are expected to perform haj this year.
“The enemies of Islam are making preparations against you, so be wary of them,” the Grand Mufti said in his sermon at mount Arafat’s Nimara mosque…