Saturday, March 13, 2004
Islamic ritual took 251 lives
Commentary, February 6, 2004 : "An Islamic ritual known as the 'hajj' took 251 lives at the beginning of February in Mina, Saudi Arabia, when a crowd stampeded while 'stoning the devil.' But this isn't the only time this same event has brought tragedy; it seems to be part of the hysteria and uncontrolled behavior that haunts this religious event. In March of 2001, 35 people were killed in the same devil-stoning ritual, in April of 1998, some 180 pilgrims were trampled to death when they fell off an overpass during the stoning ritual. In April, 1997, another 343 people died when they were trapped in tents as fire ripped through the tent city of Mina, and 1,500 were injured. Another stampede in May, 1994, produced 270 deaths, and in July of 1990, in the worst-ever hajj-related tragedy, 1,426 pilgrims were killed in a stampede in a pedestrian tunnel in Mecca.

These people were performing a ritual which is considered a holy act, one that brings great virtue and blessings to those involved. And death to at least 2,500 of them in 14 years...?"

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