… THEIR CONTEMPT FOR AFRICAN MUSLIMS
Saudi Arabia’s head of the central Hajj committee, Prince Khaled al-Faisal, has blamed the crush outside the holy city of Mecca that killed at least 717 people and injured 850 more on “some pilgrims with African nationalities”. According to Saudi-owned al-Arabiya TV, Prince Khaled’s controversial remarks blamed African “undisciplined pilgrims” for the stampede.
Similarly, the Saudi health minister Khaled al-Falih, who was quoted by El-Ekhbariya television as saying that “many pilgrims move without respecting the timetables set by authorities, which was the principal reason for this type of accident. If the pilgrims had followed instructions, this type of accident could have been avoided.”
But none of the officials mentioned the closure of some gates by the Saudi authorities, which increased the concentration of pilgrims in one route, as a major cause of the stampede, which happened on first day of the Eid al-Adha festival (24 September).
This unfair accusation further confirms the contempt with which Saudi authorities regard Africans, for no other reason than the color of their skins. This is not the first time Saudi authorities are treating Africans with lack of respect, perhaps because our own leaders do not really care about our conditions, in or outside our home countries. Already, some Nigerian pilgrim leaders have started sheepishly reechoing the Saudi allegation, a very unfortunate behavior.
Iranian officials who lost at least 43 nationals, did not mince words in accusing Saudi Arabia of carelessness, mismanagement and lack of safety in the aftermath of the tragedy.
The head of Iran’s Hajj organisation, Mr. Said Ohadi, said the incident was caused by the Saudi authorities’ decision to close two paths near the scene of the symbolic ‘stoning of the devil’ ritual.
“Today’s incident shows mismanagement and lack of serious attention to the safety of pilgrims. There is no other explanation. The Saudi officials should be held accountable,” he said on Iranian state television.
Iran’s deputy foreign minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian said a Saudi diplomatic envoy would be summoned over the incident.
“We can in no way be indifferent to this irresponsible behaviour of Saudi Arabia. This will be dealt with through diplomatic channels. Saudi Arabian officials are responsible for this incident and they should immediately endeavour to take effective measures for managing the existing crisis and providing full security for pilgrims.”
These are leaders who really care about their people, true representatives of the people. Unlike our leaders who rather treat us like a piece of furniture, with no feelings, and to whom they owe no obligations.
Nigerian authorities must emulate Iran, in coming out clearly to condemn Saudi Arabia, for causing the death of our citizens and not only remaining unapologetic, but also coming out arrogantly to blame and deride us for an offense they that is not ours.
It’s time the change Nigerians voted for, manifest in Federal Government’s response to this Saudi madness.
(c)2015 Umar Sa’id Tudunwada
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