CAIRO: Allegations of negligence concerning Saudi’s administration and handling of the hajj are “unacceptable,” Dr. Abbass Schumann, the Undersecretary of Al-Azhar told Egyptian state-owned news agency MENA Tuesday.
At least 760 persons were killed in a stampede in Saudi city of Mena during the annual pilgrimage last week; 228 Iranians were killed, and 246 remain missing, according to the Iranian Ministry of Hajj Administration.
Iranian president Rouhani called for an investigation in to the causes of the stampede Monday during his speech at the United Nations General Assembly debate.
Blame against Saudi is “hasty,” Schumann said, pointing out that “Saudi Arabia under the leadership of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques annually does its utmost for the success of the pilgrimage season, and any accusations of failings are contrary to the truth and the reality that sees millions of pilgrims every year.”
The Hajj, or pilgrimage, is one of the five pillars of Islam that is performed during the Eid holiday. This year an estimated 2 million persons took part. The stampede took place on the day of the “stoning of the devil” ritual, when two waves of pilgrims reportedly met at the same intersection.
Schumann called for patience pending the conclusion of the investigation by Saudi Arabia, and cautioned against rushing to judgment.
This year’s stampede is the worst in 25 years; the most recent stampede took place in 2006, killing more than 340 persons. Earlier this month, a construction crane fell on pilgrims in the Grand Mosque, killing 107.