Press TV has conducted an interview with Colin Cavell, a university lecturer and political commentator from Virginia, to get his insight into the main cause of the crush incident during the Hajj rites in Mina, a holy city near Mecca.
The following is a rough transcription of the interview.
Press TV: Why is it that despite raking in huge amounts of money from the Hajj pilgrimage, Saudi Arabia cares less for pilgrim safety and instead invests in building skyscrapers, which are literally changing the religious identity of the city as well?
Cavell: As the Saudi officials have already indicated, they blame the people for the deaths. They’re trying to cover up what is a very tragic crime. We have here at least 700 people dead and more probably upwards of 2000 with over 131 Iranians dead so far. And this is just the preliminary results.
And what we have here is a newspaper in Lebanon on Thursday reported that the road was deliberately blocked and now we’re finding enough from other sources, it was blocked because deputy crown price Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud, the youngest defense minister in the world, 30 years old, has been escorted by over 340 military policemen. And this caused the people to be turned away from the small narrow route and began to avoid confronting this convoy. They quickly flew him out and then they put a silence on any reports that Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman was anywhere in the area.
So, What we have is a tragedy on many levels internally. As President Rouhani of Iran said you have many of experienced soldiers in Saudi Arabia who are engaged in a reckless war down in Yemen. You have what is virtually the “Foxes Guarding the Hen House” in Saudi Arabia. You have mismanagement at Saudi Arabia’s highest levels. They have tons of money and they do not care about the pilgrims. They do not care about the people. They only interested in gaining incredibly and increasingly more and more money.
And you can see the same thing with Saudi Arabia buying a seat recently on the Human Rights Council. There you have the foxes guarding the hen house. Now you have in Saudi Arabia, which claims to be the custodian of the two holy mosques, there also you have the foxes guarding the hen house. We have to get rid of these foxes.
Press TV: Indeed, many countries criticize Saudi Arabia for its mismanagement. How do you think such a great annual event should be managed then? I mean, there shouldn’t be a council of several Muslim countries instead of only Saudi Arabia?
Cavell: That would be a better arrangement then having one state claiming to be the sole custodian of the two holy mosques. If they claim to be the custodian, then they should be the custodian. They should actually act in a responsible manner, but as we’ve seen back just 25 years ago we saw 1400 people were killed. Just two months ago, we saw over a hundred more people killed. And now we probably have over 2,000 people killed. So, they’re not really learning from their responsibility, Sir.
Press TV’s website can also be accessed at the following alternate addresses: