Canadian Muslims call for more government intervention after tragedy in Mecca

Posted on: September 26th, 2018 by
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TORONTO — After a stampede killed more than 700 people during the annual hajj pilgrimage in Mecca on Thursday, opinions have been split among Muslim Canadians as to how much more the Saudi Arabian government should be doing to keep pilgrims safe.

Some think the Canadian government should also be playing a role in ensuring their well being.

More than two dozen members of the Islamic Foundation of Toronto congregation are in Mecca. All are believed to be safe according to the Imam.

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READ MORE: Canadian tour company’s 400 pilgrims safe after deadly hajj stampede

He said they feel for the hundreds who died, but that is tempered with knowing they died in the path of spirituality.

“It was obviously shocking, but at the same time as believers, as Muslims, we believe it was a blessed death as well,” said Imam Yusuf Badat.

While there is no official word yet, Badat heard the deadly stampede started when someone reported a campfire out of control, sending people fleeing down a road right into an oncoming crowd.

Badat said every year he’s been to Mecca, he’s seen improvements in crowd control by Saudi Arabian officials.

“The heat there right now is approximately 60 degrees and you are in crowds of two million doing the same thing and you are in the same place. There’s bound to be some form of difficulty,” said Badat.

READ MORE: ‘It was like a wave’: Stampede at hajj in Saudi Arabia kills more than 700

The President of the Markham Muslim Association suggested the Canadian Government should be doing more to ensure the safety of pilgrims. He said their should be consular services available to pilgrims.

“Even just for the specific time. I went there a few times and I felt I am left alone and I have nothing to fall back on, should I run into any issue,” said Abdul Huq Ingar.

There is an embassy in Saudi Arabia, but it is several hundred kilometres away from Mecca in the capital of Riyadh.

Canada’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs points out there are travel warnings on its website.

READ MORE: Glance at major hajj-related incidents in Saudi Arabia

However, Ingar believes the federal government should also be working with the Saudi Arabian government to educate pilgrims to that they can stay safe there.

“That is the thing we need from our side here as a Canadian,” he said, adding that despite any risk, he would love to go back.

“It’s a one in a lifetime experience. It’s something you can never forget.”

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