Mena tragedy (5)
Welcome to the 5th part of our 8-part series on last year’s tragedy at Mena in holy Mecca during the Hajj pilgrimage that led to the martyrdom of over 2,000 pilgrims to the symbolic house of God, the holy Ka’ba, including some 500 Iranians, because of the criminal negligence of law and order by the Wahhabi regime of Saudi Arabia, which this year has violated the tenets of Islam by barring pilgrims from Iran from performing the religious obligation of Hajj.
We continue the eyewitness account on the collapse of the huge crane in the Masjid al-Haraam housing the holy Ka’ba, in the words of the Iranian pilgrim Mohammad. He says: “After this horrible incident, I couldn’t forget the sight of blood and limbs scattered in every direction in Islam’s holiest place. After that whenever I entered the Masjid al-Haraam to pray and supplicate for the souls of the pilgrims killed by the fall of the crane, I used to shudder, especially on seeing scores of cranes towering in all directions of this sacred place. I don’t know what these cranes were in this sacred place. I feared that another crane might fall and kill more innocent pilgrims. Days passed quickly and the time for performing the Hajj-e Tamatto came. After donning the Ehram or white seamless garb for male pilgrims, we set out for the plain of Arafat on the eve of the 9th of Zil-Hajjah, since the following day was the Day of Arafa, when special prayers and supplications are recited by the pilgrims, especially the highly eloquent supplication of Imam Husain (AS), the grandson of Prophet Mohammad (SAWA). We observed the rites and rituals of the Day of Arafa including the reciting of this supplication in the moving voice of Mohsen Haji Hassani which changed the atmosphere on the plain of Arafat. In the evening, we moved for another holy place, the Mash’ar al-Haraam or Muzdalefa, to spend the night there and collect pebbles for stoning the symbolic devils on the next day in Mena.
At sunrise on the 10th of Zil-Hijjah, that is the Day of Eid al-Adha, the massive gathering of pilgrims from all over the world, moved towards Mena in groups, chanting the Talabiya. There seemed to be an atmosphere of enthusiasm as the climax of the Hajj neared. Finally we arrived at the camp that the Saudis had allotted to the Iranian pilgrims. It is a dirty place and very far from Jamaraat where the stoning of the satans takes place. After a brief breakfast, our group set for Jamaraat to perform the ritual. I knew that in the past years due to mismanagement of the Saudis, many painful incidents occurred in this particular place for pilgrims. However, with a significant reduction in the number of pilgrims in 2015 such incidents were less expected. The Saudi police directed the Iranians to street number 204. It was a narrow passage leading to the Jamaraat for stoning the Satan. It was 8 am and the movement of the crowd slowed down because of the heavy rush, because pilgrims of many other nationalities were also coming in this direction. We realized that the Saudi police have directed pilgrims from some African countries towards street number 204, despite the passage being narrow. As a result, the movement of the masses proceeding towards the Jamaraat became very slow. At the same time, the day was becoming hot. The manager of our convoy, in view of his experience of the previous years expressed hope that the Saudi police which have the paths under watch through surveillance cameras might open another passage for easing the crowd density. But surprisingly, the adjacent path was also closed, and to our surprise the security forces had also blocked the exit at the street on which we were proceeding. As a result, tens of thousands of pilgrims became trapped in street number 204, while every moment their numbers were increasing.
Our situation was becoming worse every moment. Whatever water we had in our flasks was finished, while the heat and exhaustion made us very weak. There were two Saudi relief centers near us and we hoped that they would come to our help, or at least splash some water on the thirsty crowd. But this did not happen. It now became clear that the Saudi had ulterior motives. They had in fact, on Eid al-Adha, chosen the pilgrims to the House of God as human sacrifice. There were acting under the orders of their superiors, and the intention was to cause a general stampede and heavy loss of life. It was 9 am and the pilgrims who were weaker gradually lost their consciousness. We pinned our hope in God for Whom we came to the Land of Revelation for performing the Hajj at His Commandment. We prayed and supplicated to God, but the Saudis on seeing our miserable sights, started mocking us. Only a miracle could save us from the pressure, heat and imminent death looming before our eyes.
That was the end of today’s edition. Tune in again tomorrow to hear more Iranian Pilgrim Mohammad’s eyewitness account of the Mena Tragedy.