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350 ‘Devil Stoners’ Trampled To Death

What can you say?

From the DNC's New York Times:

January 12, 2006

Saudi Officials Say 345 Killed in Stampede


DUBAI, Jan. 12 – A stampede of pilgrims at the annual Haj pilgrimage in Mecca killed hundreds today in the second deadly incident at the pilgrimage in less than a week.

About 345 pilgrims were trampled to death in the incident, apparently when luggage fell from a bus, tripping pilgrims who were trampled by a wave of others behind them, an official at the Saudi Ministry of Interior said, speaking on a condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak.

Hundreds of people were crushed in a matter of minutes, most of them from the Indian subcontinent, the official said. More than 1,000 people were also injured in the stampede, The Associated Press reported.

The incident follows a building collapse in Mecca last Thursday that killed 76 people, making this one of the deadliest pilgrimages in recent history.

The stampede today occurred at the Jamarat Bridge in Mina, about 10 miles outside Mecca, where tens of thousands of Muslim pilgrims were symbolically purging themselves of sin by pelting stones at three walls representing the devil.

It was the final ritual in a series of acts performed during Haj, the fifth and final pillar of Islam, which is a pilgrimage to Mecca that every able-bodied adult Muslim is expected to take at least once in their lives. After today's ritual, pilgrims make a final visit to the Grand Mosque in Mecca.

The Jamarat Bridge site is a notorious bottleneck that has been the scene of most major accidents at the Haj in past years. In 2004, 245 people were crushed to death in a similar incident, considered then one of the worst incidents at the Haj in recent years.

A witness on the scene today said he was turned away as a stream of ambulances and paramedics rushed into the crowd. Arabic TV broadcasts showed numerous bodies at the scene, lined up and covered in sheets.

"We did not hear what happened until 5 or 5:30, and we were told to avoid the section because there was a major incident," said Samir Barqah, a Meccan native who was performing the Haj today. "Every year, there's a rush to do this before sundown. That gives you maybe six hours to get 3 million people to pass through. It's just impossible."

Mr. Barqah said the scene had been cleared in less than two hours, and that most of the pilgrims who followed had little sense that anything had happened.

The weeklong Haj is one of the largest annual migrations in the world. In all, about 2 million Muslims fly into the birthplace of Islam in just a matter of days, and an estimated million more Saudis drive in from all parts of the country.

Moving the mass of people through narrow valleys and through all the rites of the pilgrimage safely and quickly entails painstaking study of bottlenecks, safety holes, loads, cultural patterns and tough security. The job takes teams of planners, engineers, doctors and police men working year round to make small changes and improvements that can make a dramatic difference on safety.

"We used to be able to tolerate 80,000 stone throwers per hour, now it's more like 250,000 stone throwers per hour," said Ossam al Bar, head of the Haj Studies department in Mecca's Um al Qura University, which is charged with studying and engineering new solutions for the Haj. Last year, the Ministry of Haj, which oversees the pilgrimage, completed one of the more significant improvements to the site, turning the circular barriers around the walls into ellipses to ensure a smooth flow of traffic. The pilgrimage took place without incident.

Of course this happens every year, often several times a year, especially during the height of Hajj rush hour.

But where is the outrage? Why isn't Mother Sheehan demanding an end of this senseless carnage?

Isn't it time to demand we get the Moslems out of Mecca?!

This article was posted by Steve on Thursday, January 12th, 2006. Comments are currently closed.

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