Senior British Muslim calls for Hajj deaths probe

© Ahmad Masood
Islamic Society of Britain director Khalid Anis has called for an inquiry into Thursday’s Mecca stampede which left more than 700 Muslim pilgrims dead and over 800 injured. He said hajis will continue to put themselves at risk despite the tragedy.

The stampede was the worst to have occurred during the Hajj pilgrimage in 25 years.

Khalid Anis, who sits on the board of the Islamic Society of Britain, said it was a tragedy that “people are allowed to die on something which should be spiritual and peaceful.”

He called for further analysis into how the stampede was allowed to happen and emphasized the role Saudi Arabia must play.

“Obviously we all want answers. We all need to know why this happened. There just needs to be a clear, transparent analysis of what went wrong,” he told the Press Association.

He said any inquiry needs to be led by Saudi Arabia, adding the British government should “push the Saudis to hold the inquiry and to make sure that it’s open and transparent.”

Anis said he does not anticipate a full investigation.

“Am I confident that it will be looked at and analyzed properly? No. Because it’s already turned into a blame game and we have no idea of the story.

“So I’m not confident that it will be sorted and you know, people will still go to Hajj and people will still put themselves at risk, and you know, that’s a tragedy really, that people are allowed to die on something which should be spiritual and peaceful.

“It’s always been difficult to go on Hajj, so nobody’s denying the difficulty, but it should not any longer in this day and age be life threatening.”

His comments come as more than 120 British Muslims have been reported “missing” by family and friends in the UK.

The Muslim Council of Wales announced on Friday it knew of around 120 people in three groups from Cardiff, Newport and Swansea who are unaccounted for.

A spokesperson said other Brits attending the Hajj had made contact, but 120 remained missing.

Farhan Khalid, from the Association of British Hujjaj (ABH) which provides pilgrims with pre-travel health and safety advice, said there are “big problems” with education on health and safety at the pilgrimage.

The annual pilgrimage to Mecca has been plagued with tragic stampedes and crushes.

In 1990 more than 1,400 pilgrims were killed during a stampede in a tunnel. Since then, 244 were killed in 2004, and more than 360 killed in a crush in Mina.