Arab states rap bid to ‘politicize’ stampede

A man receives his family member who returned from Saudi Arabia after the Haj pilgrimage at Karachi airport, Pakistan.

A man receives his family member who returned from Saudi Arabia after the Haj pilgrimage at Karachi airport, Pakistan.

Arab foreign ministers attending a UN meeting in New York have slammed Iran and other countries for trying to exploit the tragic death of pilgrims in Mina for political purposes.

During a coordination meeting on the sidelines of the 70th session of the UN General Assembly meeting in New York on Monday, the ministers also praised the Kingdom for its efforts to help the Yemeni people, and restore the legitimate government of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi.

The Arab ministers also discussed the Israeli attacks on Islamic holy sites in East Jerusalem, and said there is a need to place more pressure on the Israeli government to respect international resolutions and agreements.

In addition, they urged an end to the killing of the Syrian people.

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir, Deputy Foreign Minister for Multilateral Relations Prince Turki bin Mohammed, and Saudi representative to the UN Abdullah Al-Alami attended the meeting.

OIC Secretary-General Iyad Madani has already expressed confidence in Saudi Arabia’s hosting of the event.

In a statement issued after the stampede, he expressed the hope that “no party would seek to take advantage of the pilgrimage and pilgrims … in a controversial context that would divide rather than unite.”

The foreign minister has vowed that if mistakes were made, those who made them would be held accountable.

The minister has blamed Tehran for playing politics.

“We will reveal the facts when they emerge, and we will not hold anything back,” he said.

This year’s Haj drew some 2 million pilgrims from 180 countries, though in recent years it has drawn more than 3 million without any major incidents.

The Saudi Health Ministry says the death toll for the incident in Mina on Sept. 24 remains 769 people, with another 934 injured in the crush of pilgrims.

Faisal Alzahrani, the Health Ministry’s general director of communications, said that civil defense authorities would be responsible for announcing any new death toll.

Maj. Gen. Mansour Al-Turki, Interior Ministry spokesman, has clarified that the nearly 1,100 photos distributed to foreign diplomats to help identify nationals who have died in the Haj are from the entire pilgrimage and not just the Mina stampede.

Officials in India and Pakistan said a day earlier that Saudi officials gave their diplomats some 1,090 pictures of those killed in last Thursday’s stampede.

Lalu Muhammad Iqbal, an official in Indonesia’s Foreign Ministry, said 46 Indonesian pilgrims died in the Mina incident, while 10 were injured and 90 remain missing.

Saudi officials have launched an investigation into the disaster.


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