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Saudis should be transparent on Hajj death toll: Activist

Saudi emergency personnel stand near bodies of Hajj pilgrims at the site of a stampede in Mina, near the holy city of Mecca on September 24, 2015. (©AFP)

Press TV has conducted an interview with Jahangir Mohammad, director of the Center for Muslims’ Affairs from Manchester, to get his view on a new tally, which shows at least 2,177 pilgrims were killed in Mina stampede during this year’s Hajj pilgrimage.

The following is a rough transcription of the interview.

Press TV: 2,200 pilgrims is very far off from the original death toll of Saudi Arabia at 769, why isn’t the kingdom rising that death toll?

Mohammad: Well, there’s a massive difference between 700 and 2200. So, I guess this is a very serious allegation if it’s true and the Saudi authorities really do need to provide absolute certainty and clarification of the numbers of death.

And I think it’s incumbent on other Muslim countries, whose residents have not returned to provide figures. So, we can’t arrive at an independent assessment of how many people have actually died.

It’s a very serious situation really and I’m surprised that this is not being discussed more. And we’re still awaiting not the independent but the Saudi investigation. And it seems to be taking an awful long time.

Press TV: Is Saudi Arabia even interested in carrying out a fair and transparent investigation into what happened considering that many countries are accusing the kingdom for not being cooperative and forthcoming?

Mohammad: Well, it appears that they are being very defensive about the whole issue. And there is a need for much greater openness and transparency and for other countries to be allowed, to be part of that investigation, to give confidence to Muslims around the world.

But what they are doing is not going to be whitewashed and facts hidden, and that is going to be factually accurate and truthful.  

And you can only do that if you allow other people to be part of the process, independent people, and put everything on the table.  

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