Noontime gathering at Namira Mosque, near Mount Arafat - From ABC News
On Thursday September 24, a massive stampede occurred as pilgrims from around the world converged in the holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia to partake in the annual Hajj, during which Muslims gather to perform various rituals as part of their duty to visit the holy city at least once in their lifetime. In the past, several other stampedes have occurred; the deadliest being one in 1990 which resulted in the deaths of 1426 pilgrims. It is speculated from eyewitness reports that two groups of pilgrims crossed paths with each other on the same street; the result being absolute chaos. The temperature, as pilgrims crashed into each other in an enclosed space, was reportedly over 115 degrees Farenheit. As of 11:30 AM, Saudi Health Minister Khalid al-Falih reported that out of pilgrims from 33 countries, 769 were reported dead, 934 injured, and over 1200 missing.
The BBC reported that Saudi Arabia's Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin-Abdullah al-Sheikh, the country's highest religious authority, told Supreme Hajj Committee chairman Mohammed bin Nayef that he was "not responsible for what happened." Saudi Minister al-Falih placed the blame on the pilgrims for failing to follow directions.
On the other hand, Iran's Prosecutor General Ebrahim Raisi demanded that Saudi officials be tried in criminal courts for the catastrophe; at least 134 Iranians were killed, while over 300 were missing. Other officials from different nations have placed the fault on Saudi authorities, who reportedly mismanaged the different crowds of pilgrims and sent them directly into each other.
What should be done, and by whom? Who is to blame? Does this merit Saudi officials being tried in an international criminal court? How could the government have handled the situation differently, and why does this continue to happen despite past occurrences?
ABC News - How does a human stampede happen?