State press agencies in both Iran and Saudi Arabia have alleged new conspiracies about who is to blame for the Hajj stampede that killed hundreds of Muslim pilgrims last week.
Saudi Arabia’s Asharq Al-Awsat–which is owned by one of King Salman’s sons–alleged over the weekend that Iranian pilgrims were to blame for the hajj disaster. The pilgrims “failed to follow instructions from Hajj authorities,” the paper claimed, citing an unnamed Iranian official.
The anonymous official said that 300 Iranians broke the rules and did not await clearance to leave the “stoning of the devil” ceremony. “The group stopped for a while, causing the coming pilgrims to take a route no more than 20 meters wide,” the official is quoted as saying.
The Saudi media outlet reported that the “majority of eyewitnesses” it had spoken to confirmed that the Iranians “failed to follow orders from security.” Another pilgrim told the news service that “an unusual mass of pilgrims congregated on Street 204 [that leads to Jamarat] after some entered the wrong lane.” The witness added, “movement on street 204 was normal until a large number of pilgrims came in the opposite direction, which stopped movement for about an hour and a half before the elderly began to collapse.”
Iran’s state-run Mehr News Agency alleged that the Hajj incident was “probably pre-planned.”
A Syrian analyst said in an interview with Iran’s state-controlled media outlet: “the missing [sic] of some of Iranian diplomatic and media figures indicates that the incident had been pre-planned.”
“It is too obvious that Saudi Arabia abuses the huge income every year it makes from Hajj pilgrimage. Not a penny of these huge income [sic] is spent in reconstruction and improvement of the holy places and shrines, since the Wahhabist radical ideology is essentially hostile to the idea of construction. In the past, Saudis had plans to destroy the Shrine of the Prophet (as), for example,” he added.
Others have alleged that Saudi Arabia is not revealing the true death toll, and predict that perhaps thousands, not hundreds, were killed in the Hajj incident.
Officials from Nigeria, Pakistan, India, and Indonesia have all been quoted as saying that they believe more than 1,000 people were killed.
A Nigerian official told the BBC that 1,075 bodies have already been taken to morgues.
Separately, a senior Saudi Prince is now calling for King Salman to step down over the Hajj event, declaring that the King is “not in a stable condition” and no longer fit to lead the Wahhabi state.