The American Human Rights Council (AHRC-USA) expresses its sincere condolences to the families of the pilgrims who died on Thursday September 24, 2015 as they were marking the end of the pilgrimage season at Mecca in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia as a result of unfortunate stampede. Also, AHRC wishes the injured pilgrims a speedy recovery. This unfortunate incident is a true human tragedy that has caused many families deep pain and sorrow. AHRC sends its condolences to the Kingdom of the Saudi Arabia and the Muslim world for such a loss. AHRC commends His Holiness Pope Francis for his noble gesture that affirms basic decency and our common humanity in conducting a prayer for those who lost their lives. Such a gesture sends a messages that even if we are different in faith, our common humanity unites us.
The safety of over two million pilgrims, from all kinds of backgrounds speaking all the languages in the world, gathered in a relatively small area is a huge undertaking that, overall, the Saudi government has managed well for the overwhelming majority of pilgrims. But, despite billions of dollars spent by the government of Saudi Arabia, accidents still happen during the hajj. The Washington Post quoted Dirk Helbing, ‘a German academic who studies crowds and panic and had visited Saudi Arabia describing the hajj as “the biggest pedestrian problem in the world.”’ We understand the immense challenge that Saudi Arabia faces, acknowledge the efforts it has made, and we hope that Saudi Arabia examines the deadly incident and learns from it how to improve the safety of future hajj seasons.
“The noble and kind response of Pope Francis to the tragedy reaffirms our common humanity, regardless of faith or nationality, and serves as a role model of the response of a man of God to such a human tragedy,” said Imad Hamad, AHRC executive director.