AK Party's Vice President Mehmet Ali Şahin suggested Friday that Turkey should undertake the hajj organization in Saudi Arabia in order to prevent future tragedies, where hundreds of pilgrims die due to organizational shortcomings in the holy city.
In response to the recent stampede in Mecca, which left over 750 pilgrims dead, Şahin stated that there is a serious lack of precautions in Saudi Arabia, and said it posed a serious threat to the lives of over a million pilgrims.
"If they (Saudi Arabia) hand over the hajj organization to Turkey, everybody will be able to perform their hajj duty without any scratches" Şahin said, and underscored that Turkey is equipped to take care of about two million people, as he noted such crowds attend protests and demonstrations in the country without anybody getting any harm. He noted that Turkey would not demand any funds to undertake such an organization.
Şahin stated that even though Mecca and its surroundings are officially Saudi Arabian soil, they belong to all Muslims.
"Muslim countries should come together and find solutions to resolve the security issue in Mecca" Şahin said.
Şahin also criticized Saudi authorities for blaming the pilgrims for 'not obeying the rules' and said it is their responsibility to take precautions and ensure order, and direct the crowds. "There is no excuse for this" he said.
On Thursday, over 750 people were killed and 887 were injured in a stampede at Mina on the outskirts of Mecca, the deadliest tragedy to strike the annual hajj pilgrimage in nearly a decade. Four Turkish citizens were confirmed dead, while 11 are still missing according to Turkey's Presidency of Religious Affairs (Diyanet).
Two weeks ago, a crane collapsed near the Ka'aba, killing over 100 people, leading to questions about the adequacy of measures put in place by Saudi authorities to ensure the safety of the roughly two million Muslims performing their pilgrimage.
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