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Foreign Guest Opinion. THE HAJ TRAGEDY BEGGING TO HAPPEN

Actually it has nothing to do with Islam. It is that there is something wrong with those people. And if you have been to Mekkah ten times like I have, then you will know what I mean. The people from the Middle East, Africa, the Indian continent, etc., are just too rough, aggressive, rude, and quarrelsome — they like to argue and fight.

I have been to Mekkah ten times thus far, twice to perform the Haj, so I understand perfectly well the conditions there. When you congregate two or three million people in one place, crowd control becomes a problem.


Just to digress a bit, even 500,000 is a huge crowd. If you get a helicopter view of what 500,000 people in a crowd looks like, it is hard to imagine that the Bersih rally attracted 500,000 people as they claim. I mean, have you seen what a crowd of 500,000 looks like?


Anyway, the problem with the recent tragedy in Mina where more than 700 are reported to have died and almost 900 injured — which means the death toll may increase since some of those injured are quite critical — is not due to the size of the crowd but because of the attitude of those people.

I was there in 1990 when more than 1,400 were crushed and died in the tunnel in Mina — with many more injured, some quite serious. I have also seen people stepped on and crushed in some of those other trips I made there as well.

In fact, I was once caught in such a crush myself. I thought I was going to die so I tried to climb above the crowd. But what happened in the end was my feet could no longer touch the ground so I was carried by the crowd and for about fifteen minutes I fought just to be able to breath.

I ended up very far from where I started and from that day on I never dared enter the mosque for Friday prayers. I prayed outside the mosque, and when the crowd became too big and unruly outside the mosque as well, I prayed in the hotel lobby.

Anyway, the crowd stretched from the hotel lobby all the way to the mosque so I could not have reached the mosque even if I wanted to. I once tried entering the mosque at 10.00am, three hours before the start of the prayers, but by 1.00pm the crowd got so large that I still got crushed.

In one incident a Pakistani kicked me and told me to get out so that he could take my spot. I meekly got up and walked away and some Iranians who saw the incident waved me over and made space for me. So I sat down amongst the large Iranian crowd who offered me ‘protection’ from those rude Pakistanis who probably thought I was Iranian. In fact, the Iranians spoke Parsi to me because they, too, thought I was Iranian.

But they were still nice to me even though I told them I was Malaysian. They even invited me for lunch but I politely declined since most of them were Iran-Iraq war veterans and I did not want to end up getting embroiled in Middle Eastern politics (they were chanting anti-US rhetoric).

Actually, people die every year in stampedes during the Haj. Maybe the 1990 incident and yesterday’s incident were the more serious of the many. But every year people die in crushes and stampedes. It is only not reported until the death toll exceeds 100.

If you have been to Mekah ten times like I have, you will know that it is the attitude of the people that causes these tragedies. Pilgrims from South East Asia, such as those from Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines, Singapore, Brunei,etc., are okay. It is those Arabs (Turks and others included), Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, Africans and so on who are the problem. They are rough, aggressive, rude, and quarrelsome. They just like conflict.

When we from South East Asia face the aggressive Arabs, Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, Africans, etc., we back down. When they push we give way and do not push back. The Arabs, Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, Africans, etc., when pushed, do not back down or give way. They push back and people fall down and get stepped on. Then the crowd breaks out into panic and starts to stampede and more people fall down and get stepped on.

They lock arms and bulldoze their way through the crowd as if it was a rugby scrum. If you happen to be standing in their way you will get knocked and if not careful you will fall down and they will step on you. So you do not fight back. You quickly step aside and let them pass.

It is no coincidence that amongst the 1,500 or so victims of yesterday’s stampede there were no Malaysians (at least at the time I write this article there are no reports of Malaysian victims). This is because while the ‘others’ come out to ‘stone the devil’ around noon, Malaysians come out in the evening when the crowd has thinned.

This was what Tabung Haji advised us so if there were any Malaysian victims this can only mean they were stubborn and did not listen to T

abung Haji’s advice. In 1990, there were some Malaysians amongst the 1,400 who died and this is because they ignored Tabung Haji’s advice.

Sometimes when you look at the problems in the Middle East, Africa, the Indian continent (Pakistan and Bangladesh included), in particular regarding the violence, you get an impression that this all has to do with Islam and hence there must be something wrong with the religion.

Actually it has nothing to do with Islam. It is that there is something wrong with those people. And if you have been to Mekah ten times like I have, then you will know what I mean. The people from the Middle East, Africa, the Indian continent, etc., are just too rough, aggressive, rude, and quarrelsome — they like to argue and fight.

They push and knock you down and step on you. And that is why people die during the pilgrimage every year. If they could only be a bit more courteous and polite, disasters could be avoided. But being nice does not appear to be the nature of the beast to these people. And they make Muslims appear uncivilised due to this. MALAYSIA TODAY

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