A Saudi Arabian newspaper has quoted an anonymous official of the Iranian Hajj pilgrim management body to blame Iranian pilgrims for the Mina stampede that killed 769 and left 934 injured.
In a report published on Sunday, Asharq Al-Awsat daily, a sister concern of Saudi Gazette, quoted the official and said a group of 300 Iranian pilgrims broke the set plan for Hajj.
The group did not follow the instruction to go to their tents from Muzdalifah and went to Jamarat with their baggage, the Saudi media said.
“They had been instructed to take rest in their tents and wait for the time allotted for them to perform their stoning ritual.”
It also said the violation of the instruction and the Iranian group’s decision to go against the flow and back to their tents was what caused the stampede.
The Saudi Gazette quoted its publishing concern and said that the group headed back to their tents from Jamarat through Street 204, going against the flow of the pilgrims’ movement.
“The flow of pilgrims from two opposite directions resulted in the overcrowding and the stampede ensued,” the newspaper quoted the anonymous Iranian official as saying.
The newspaper said the Iranian group’s wrong move was caught on cameras in Jamarat.
“That actually was time for Turkish pilgrims to come out,” the Saudi Gazzette said quoting the newspaper.
Meanwhile, Sultan Al-Dosari, official spokesperson of the Makkah governorate, denied international media reports which quoted its Amir, Prince Khaled Al-Faisal, blaming African pilgrims for the stampede.
“Such reports are nothing to do with truth, and the emir did not make any such remarks about the incident to any local or foreign media outlets,” the Saudi Gazzette quoted him as saying.
‘Saudis should accept responsibility’
Reuters said Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Al Khamenei in his website said on Sunday, “This issue will not be forgotten and the nations will pursue it seriously.”
Shia leader Khamenei, who has been maintaining that Saudi Arabia, the mostly-Sunni Middle Eastern state which acts as the custodian of the holiest places for Muslims, should accept that its mismanagement had led to the stampede, reiterated his stand.
“Instead of accusing this and that, the Saudis should accept the responsibility and apologise to the Muslims and the victims’ families. The Islamic World has a lot of questions,” Reuters reported quoting his website.
Iran has claimed the toll in the incident was much higher.