Hello readers! Welcome to another GUEST POST WEEKEND here on A Loco Viva Voce. Today’s Guest Post is an article written by OJEKUNLE Alex Aderemi.
Remmy is a freelance writer, environmentalist and a social media freak. He has contributed opinions, articles and journalistic works to The Nation Newspapers, Nigerian Tribune and online media platforms. He was among the Batch C Corps Members 2015 that recently passed out of NYSC scheme and served with the Nigerian Television Authority, Akure. He is @RemmyAlex on Twitter.
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Read Remmy’s article after the cut and enjoy!
Hajj Disaster: Things We’ve Learnt
I jolted out my reverie as I remember the lost souls of last month’s gory stampede in Mina, Saudi Arabia, the destination of millions of Muslim faithful who travel every year from different parts of the world to observe the Holy pilgrimage. The Hajj is an annual Islamic pilgrimage designated as one of the five pillars of Islam. All Muslims who are physically able are expected to perform the hajj at least once in their lives, according to doctrine. In excess of 2 million pilgrims from more than 170 nations descended upon Saudi Arabia for this year’s Hajj.
In the last two weeks, the Holy land witnessed disasters; the first being the collapse of a crane at the Grand Mosque in Mecca, killing 109 people and the second is the recent stampede at Mina on 24th September, 2015 where several persons were feared dead and at least 800 people were injured. The stampede occurred as pilgrims in Mina, east of Mecca, were on their way to perform the “stoning of the devil” ritual at a place called Jamarat.
In a twist of development, Saudi has been blamed for allowing the devil to stone the pilgrims instead just as the international community awaits Saudi Authority to take culpability and responsibility for the calamity. The official Saudi statements that the pilgrims’ failure to heed to crowd-control regulations contributed to the tragedy has apparently shown that Saudi Arabia is blaming the victims in a cowardly bid to evade accountability and accept responsibility. An outpouring of grief for the dead and indignation against Saudi Arabia’s leadership has been sweeping across the world over the death of over 700 pilgrims even though the Saudi government claimed that more than 100,000 security personnel and 25,000 health workers were assigned to the event. In Nigeria, Africa and elsewhere, the calamity raised anew questions about whether the oil-rich kingdom has adequate infrastructure and safeguards to handle an event that is considered the world’s largest yearly gathering of humanity.
Organizing the Hajj is a massive logistical challenge and the international community is bothered on why Saudi was unable to frustrate the incident from happening. International relation’s experts argue that aside from its religious significance, the hajj is also a major generator of income, reportedly second only to oil revenues for Saudi Arabia. So why couldn’t Saudi spend more money to provide adequate measure to protect lives and properties during this feast? Well, if the nation’s authorities are not particularly selfish and greedy, the country should better devise and deplore means of monitoring activities and individuals.
Surveillances should be put in place as this will ensure some sort of security in and around Mina for the entire Hajj process. It’s high time the Saudi authority did the needful to avert the re-occurrence of this ugly situation.
The authority should do everything possible to shove aside another tragedy in future and put up proper medical, physical, and even religious measures at reducing or preventing such ugly situation in the nearest future. This is not the first time something of this nature is happening. In 1990, about 1, 400 people at the pilgrimage were trampled in a tunnel near Mecca. In 2006, more than 300 pilgrims were also killed in a crush at Jamarat.
Must we continue to experience these ugly incidents? So far, so bad, individuals and nations of the world have continued to count their losses while affected families and the entire Muslim community grieve worldwide. This latest pilgrimage calamity, which occurred during Eid-al-Adha, Islam’s major feast, calls for sober reflection.
To forestall future occurrence of this nature, we need to learn some lessons and work on the lessons for the utter benefit of subsequent Hajj programs and other national or international events where the gathering of multitudes are expected.
The authorities concerned should try as much as possible to pass across prompt information to the participants and ensure discipline across board. They should try as much as possible to ensure that the pilgrims are well-oriented since the exercise is not that of a race but meticulous and scrupulous examination of oneself before getting to the Hajj destination. This will provide pilgrims with that mindset of life’s reflection and total submission to the Almighty Allah.
There is need for mobile and emergency medical team that will facilitate and attend to urgent medical needs of the participants. If this was in place in Mecca, the death rate would have been minimal.
Also, there is urgent need for proper traffic wardens solely for the Umra program. These wardens would be responsible for traffic movement of persons in and out of the roads within the city. This would have helped the pilgrims to arrive at the destination and leave without rancor of obstruction of movement on the road.
More so, the authority of Saudi Arabia needs to devise a formidable Hajj structure and procedures that take a little step away from the religious angle and conform a bit to the modern theories of organizing and providing adequate security. The need is bound out of future catastrophe that could be shunted earlier without having any effect on the people participating in the pilgrimage at the Holy land.
As a nation of Muslim, we should also try as much possible to tolerate each other in life. We are meant to be our brother’s keeper and should be willingly and ready to assist each other when the time comes. The Saudi Authority should also try to keep tab on the number of pilgrims entering Mecca yearly to perform pilgrimage. There should be high preference for first timer rather than people coming year in year out to perform the Muslim rites.
-OJEKUNLE Alex Aderemi
Always do your best and you will find that you never have to compare yourself to others. -@RemmyAlex
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