AKP deputy chair slams Saudis over Hajj tragedy, Erdoğan disapproves criticism
KARABÜK – Doğan News Agency
DHA PhotoJustice and Development Party (AKP) Deputy Chair Mehmet Ali Şahin has claimed that Turkey could do a better job than Saudi Arabia at organizing the Hajj pilgrimage, calling for Turkey to be entrusted with its management, hours before President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan condemned "aggressive attitude" toward Saudi Arabia.
Speaking at an Eid al-Adha (Feast of Sacrifice) gathering in his hometown of Karabük on the Black Sea coast, Şahin blamed the Saudi authorities for the stampede outside the Muslim holy city of Mecca that cost the lives of more than 700 pilgrims, including at least four Turks, while wounding at least another 800.
Şahin refused to define the incident as “fate” and claimed the Saudis consistently fail to take the necessary safety measures to properly oversee the Hajj organization.
“Can we just call this ‘fate,’ ‘destiny,’ ‘the end of their time on earth,’ and let it go?” Şahin asked.
He compared the pilgrimage, attended by some two million people annually, with the recent anti-terror rally held in Istanbul on Sept. 20, which the AKP claims was attended by 2 million people.
“Two million is not a massive number. Recently, that number of people attended the anti-terror rally in Istanbul. They dispersed without any incidents, without anybody being hurt,” Şahin said.
He argued Turkey could do a much better job at organizing the Hajj and making sure that no pilgrim gets hurt in the process.
“They [Muslim countries] should entrust Turkey with the organization of Hajj and Turkey would see to it that no one gets hurt. We are not asking for money. I am calling on the Saudi government: Hand the organization of the Hajj over to Turkey,” Şahin said.
Erdoğan disapproves 'aggressive attitude toward Saudi Arabia'
Meanwhile, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan also made a statement on Sept. 25 regarding criticism faced by Riyadh since the deadly accident.
Erdoğan said he did not want to criticize how the Saudis organize the Hajj and underlined that he was aware of Saudi “sensitivity” over the Hajj.
“I find the aggressive attitude toward Saudi Arabia incorrect,” he said, adding that he was confident the Saudis would take the necessary measures to address the problems.
The president’s remarks were in stark contrast with the backlash Saudi Arabia has been facing over the tragedy.
Iran accused its regional rival Saudi Arabia of mismanagement that cost the lives of 131 Iranian citizens.
According to reports by Agence France-Presse (AFP), the pilgrims at the scene also blamed the Saudi authorities, while some suggested that they were afraid to continue the Hajj rituals.