Saudi Arabia cautions pilgrims over ‘stoning the devil’ ritual

Stone the devil ritual in Jamarat, Saudi Arabia

Stone the devil ritual in Jamarat, Saudi Arabia

• Threatens violators with arrest, prosecution
• Female adherent feared dead

To avert a repeat of the last year’s tragedy, the Saudi authorities have rolled out rules to guide the “stone the devil” ritual in Jamarat during this year’s pilgrimage.

They warned that any pilgrim who violates the schedule would be arrested and prosecuted.

The warning is coming against the backdrop of the stampede which left more than 2000 pilgrims dead and scores injured during last year’s hajj.

A representative of the Saudi Arabia Hajj Ministry, Sheikh Mohammed, in a meeting with African officials in Mina yesterday, said arrangements had been concluded to assign guides who would lead a group of 250 pilgrims at a time to the Jamarat and back.

He said the government was putting in place measures to avoid the stampede that marred the exercise last year, noting that any pilgrim seen alone in Jamarat would be arrested and prosecuted.

Mohammed also disclosed that each group would not be led by a Saudi guide alone, but states would also nominate one for the groups.

State officials responsible for the erring pilgrim would also face sanction.

Mohammed, whose remarks were interpreted by an official of the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON), Aliyu Tanko, said the Saudi government was adopting the kind of schedule used for airlines at the airport.

“Take this schedule and timing as serious as the time for prayers,” he advised.

Meanwhile, a female pilgrim reportedly passed on yesterday in the city of Madina. The deceased, whose identity could not be immediately ascertained, was said to have died after performing the morning Subh prayers in the Prophet’s mosque in Madina.

The passage was, however, confirmed by an official of NAHCON, but declined to give details because he was not authorised to comment on the incident.

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