I don’t really know anything about this story beyond the headlines, but the details don’t matter. 769 people are dead. That’s a heck of a lot of people. It happened at the Hajj in Saudi Arabia, which is an annual event that attracts huge numbers of Muslims from all over the world because, if I understand it correctly, one of the obligations of being a Muslim is that you are supposed to actually visit Mecca at some point in your life, it’s a religious obligation.
With close to a billion Muslims in the world, at an average life span of let’s assume the same as everybody else, that means every year’s annual attendance is going to be freaking massive. And it is.
There are people who die at the Hajj almost every year.
The problem isn’t specific to Islam. There have been people who died at rock concerts, and football games, and Black Friday pre-Christmas sales at Target. But, still, 769 is a lot of people.
Since there are fatalities almost every year at the Hajj every year (It’s not always a stampede. People die of heat stroke, people die of heart attacks – but stampedes have happened before.), you’d think the Saudi authorities would be all over it, figuring out more effective methods of crowd control, maybe spacing the Hajj out over a longer period of time, or setting up a few campgrounds further out and limiting the number of people walking around that big monolith time at any one point. Maybe pass out a bit more free water to the crowd, or have some musical acts to keep people entertained.
I don’t know. I don’t know what would be culturally appropriate. But they should do something.
I doubt that they will, though. They know people will keep coming, no matter what they do or don’t do. No other Muslim nations are going to do anything more than grumble a bit about it, because Saudi Arabia is filled with American military bases for some strange reason. (It’s the oil.)
And the Royal Family (in the only country in the world where that still has its ancient significance) doesn’t care. How do I know they don’t care? Well, they could prove me wrong, I suppose. But I’ll bet they don’t.