Wednesday, January 12, 2005

The Religion of Peace Gets Ready to Rumble

Every year around this time millions of muslims converge on Medina and Mecca for the Hajj. I find this yearly ritual very entertaining and every year try to guess how many will die in the inevitable human traffic jam around the pillars where the pilgrims are throwing rocks at the devil. Last year the total reported was 244 deaths. That is a reported total, and I assume the real total is much higher. Interestingly enough, I can't find any photos of the people actually getting crushed or the human mass surging forward even though I can find any other type of photo ever taken on the internet with just a few clicks.

Of course, every year the Saudis refuse to fix the human choke points at the site of the pillars so this year the same thing will happen. My prediction will be 395 reported deaths during the holy ritual. Maybe we will have a few deaths when they are walking around the big box in Mecca this year, too.

This is interesting. A very scientific approach to explain how and why so many people get crushed at the site every year. Not that it will be fixed, just showing you how they get crushed.

Here is info on a plan to construct a 9 story bridge to replace the current two story bridge to avoid crushing more pilgrims.

UPDATE: Here is a list I found of recent hajj disasters courtesy of the BBC:
2001: 35 people die in stampede during stoning
1998: At least 118 trampled to death
1997: 343 pilgrims die and 1,500 injured in fire
1994: 270 killed in a stampede as worshippers surged forwards during stoning.
1990: 1,426 pilgrims killed in overcrowded pedestrian tunnel leading to holy sites
1987: 400 die in Iranian-Saudi confrontation

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