Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Hajj: Saudi Arabia Shortens Time for ‘devil stoning’ Ritual - See Why?

The government of Saudi Arabia has shortened the timing for the symbolic stoning ritual for this year’s lesser hajj.

The decision is believed to avert a repeat of the disaster that occurred last year where over 2,300 pilgrims died.

The representative of Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Hajj, Sheikh Mohammed, stated this at a workshop organised by the Est of Mutawifs for Pilgrims of Non-Arab African countries, which is meant to sensitise the officials and representatives of the State Pilgrims Welfare Boards on the measures adopted for the stoning of the devil ritual held in Muna, Makkah, on Monday.

He said the new measures will strictly adhere to the time schedule and use of guides for pilgrims, adding that two guides, each from Muassassa and the State Pilgrims Welfare Boards, would lead groups of 250 pilgrims to and from Jamarat for the stoning ritual.

As usual, the symbolic stoning of the devil will be performed immediately after pilgrims leave Arafat. The new procedure will enable the pilgrims to throw stones with ease thereby preventing any stampede that may result from overcrowding in Jamrah.

Mohammed warned that any pilgrim or state contingent that violates the new measures put in place to ensure the safety of the pilgrims would be arrested and prosecuted accordingly, adding that no pilgrim would be allowed to go out for the stoning ritual without his group or stay beyond the time allocated for the group.

He said, “Sheikh Mohammed wants the State Pilgrims Welfare Board officials and leaders of the pilgrim groups to adhere to the time schedule in line with airport style of scheduling, in the sense that flights only arrive and depart based on the time scheduled to them.”

He further warned that the state pilgrims’ welfare board officials would be held responsible for any lapses that occur during the exercise.

145 Nigerians were killed in last year’s stampede, which killed over 2,300 pilgrims, in the worst disaster in hajj history.

The disaster occurred outside the five-storey Jamarat Bridge, a structure resembling a huge parking garage which hosts the stoning ritual and cost more than $1billion to build.

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