Saskatoon celebrations tempered by Mecca stampede tragedy

Posted on: September 26th, 2018 by
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SASKATOON – It was a day of worship turned deadly. A stampede during the ritual known as “stoning the devil” has left hundreds dead and more than 800 others injured Thursday in Saudia Arabia.

Worshippers were crushed among scores of other pilgrims on the outskirts of Mecca, Islam’s holiest city.

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

The massive crowd, an estimated two million people took part in this year’s tradition, the largest annual gathering in the world.

Meanwhile in Saskatoon, nearly five thousand Muslims gathered for a formal prayer at Prairieland Park meant to celebrate the hundreds of thousands gathered in Mecca.

“It’s a joyous occasion and we share and celebrate the glad tidings of Hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca and then we also want to bring the message of peace and hope across the world,” said Matwen Rwazi, member of the Saskatoon’s Muslim community and former vice-president of the Islamic Association

It was an occasion tempered by the tragedy.

Saskatoon Muslims celebrate Hajj, a time to reflect on the unity of humanity as one body.

“We hope that there will be something done for easing systemic flow and making the logistics better so this kind of tragedy, horrible tragedy never repeats itself however we do recognize that people have suffered,” added Rwazi.

“They have lost loved ones and our hearts go out to them.”

Four-hundred Canadians were reportedly staying just one kilometre from where the tragedy unfolded. All are said to be safe and sound.

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

The Saudi health minister blamed overcrowding for the fatalities and those participating not following security instructions as directed.

Rwazi, who took part years ago, called the experience a humbling one.

“Once you get past the logistics of being in an extremely crowded place, it is a truly spiritual experience there’s no doubt about that.”

Local Muslims say traditions like these help them stay true to themselves and cope with senseless loss.



  • Muslims in Regina celebrate Eid and pray for hundreds killed in Mecca

  • Canadian Muslims call for more government intervention after tragedy in Mecca

  • In a big crowd, as at the hajj, danger can come on quickly


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