one of the pilgrims performing Hajj in Saudi Arabia this year, I would
like to express my sincere condolences to the families of the 244
pilgrims, crushed to death in Mecca by the undisciplined crowd.
2 million people, from more than 120 countries, came for this year's Hajj,
the annual Muslim pilgrimage which requires the pilgrim to visit seven
different sites over an area of five square miles, within a strictly
defined five day period. The logistics of receiving, verifying
registration papers, transporting, accommodating, feeding and maintaining
security of this number of visitors, is phenomenal.
the very comprehensive security system put in place by the Saudi
authorities to maintain crowd control, with a transient mass of 600,000
people per square mile, it is surprising that so few people are injured
every year. Due credit should be given to the authorities for their
efficient management of the Hajj, as they provide sanitation facilities
and accommodation, with no evidence of disease or terrorism.
pilgrims come voluntarily to Saudi Arabia. They neither pay for the visa
nor for the facilities which are provided for them by the Government. The
Saudis invest an enormous amount of money in the infrastructure and
transport, including 30,000 buses, to allow the pilgrims to perform Hajj.
The King even provides a free food parcel to the pilgrims every day. It is
a great achievement for the Government and the people of Saudi Arabia to
be able to host such an event each year.
all pilgrims respect and cherish their experience and return safely home.
The deaths this year are a tragic loss, but it should not undermine the
efforts, generosity and goodwill of the Saudi nation that does so much to
uphold the sanctity of the most pious place for Muslims worldwide.