By Grace Tepper
Every year millions of Muslims journey to Mecca to make the holy pilgrimage called the Hajj. All Muslims must go once in their lifetime, so there are always throngs of people crowding the sacred grounds. This year, those sacred grounds are ridden with death, as hundreds of people were killed in a stampede during the Hajj pilgrimage. The stampede took place in Mina, on the third day of the Hajj, and so far more than 760 have been reported dead, and more than 930 were injured. More than a dozen countries mourn their dead in this tragic event.
The stampede is said to have possibly been caused by a number of factors. The weather in Saudi Arabia reaches over one hundred degrees, and the masses of people only add to the temperature. People who overheated and were too weak to get up were then trampled by others, who were trying to finish the many rituals that take place in the five short days. In addition to these two circumstances, one must not forget the massive amount of newcomers to the trip, causing confusion and difficulties for others on the pilgrimage. This alone would make for a very unsettled and rushed crowd, the makings of such a severe stampede.
Do not forget that this stampede situation during the Hajj is not a new occurrence. Mina has seen many dangerous pilgrimages, especially the trip in 1990 where 1,426 Muslims were killed in a stampede, according to CNN. The population is growing, and so is the size of the Hajj. Many are unsure these stampedes will be preventable at all in the years to come. The Iranian government blames it all on Saudi Arabia, claiming that the country is not handling the Hajj well enough and that is the cause for the deaths. Saudi Arabia replies with diplomacy, claiming Iran is making this a political stunt and is not mourning the loss of hundreds from all over the world. Overall, the stampede is ugly scar on the history of the Hajj and the world. May all those lost rest in peace.