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Hajj 2016: Saudi govt imposes 12-hour ban on grouping of pilgrims for stone-throwing ritual

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The Saudi Arabian Ministry of Haj and Umrah has announced a 12-hour ban on grouping of regular pilgrims from their tents in Mina to the Jamarat area, to throw pebbles at the pillars symbolizing Satan during the three days of the ritual from Dhul Hijjah 10-12 (Sept. 11-13).

The ministry said the procedure was taken to ensure the safety of the pilgrims and prevent overcrowding.

Over 2000 pilgrims died on the first day of jamarat last year as a result of stampede.

Arab News quoted the ministry on Wednesday as saying during the first day of the ritual this year,  there will be no grouping of pilgrims to the Jamarat from 6 a.m. to 10.30 a.m.

The report said on the second day, the ban will be from 2 p.m to 6 p.m., and on the third and final day it will be from10.30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The ministry said it had agreed on the procedure with the Tawafa establishments and the Haj companies who handle pilgrims from all countries.

The ministry’s undersecretary, Hussain Al-Sharif, said the total capacity of the Jamarat area and the roads leading to it is 300,000 pilgrims per hour.

He said the grouping of pilgrims will be electronically monitored to prevent any violations.

“This procedure will enable the pilgrims to throw stones easily and will prevent any stampede that may result from overcrowding,” he said.

The ministry has prepared 18,000 buses to transport about 1.5 million foreign pilgrims. The fleet also includes 1, 696 brand new cars.

It has also provided enough golf carts at King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah and in the Grand Mosque to transport aged and disabled pilgrims.

Meanwhile, the coordination authority of the Tawafa establishments has asked all establishments not to allow their pilgrims to perform Tawaf-e-Qudum (arrival) circumambulation of the Kaba an hour before and after prayer in the Grand Mosque.

The authority said in this case the pilgrims will not be obstructed by the movement of the worshipers.

There will be about 90 mutawwifs working in shifts of 30 for 24 hours a day to guide the pilgrims performing tawaf.

On the other hand, the director of the branch of the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Call and Guidance, Ali Salem Al-Abdali said Friday prayers will be held in 120 mosques in Makkah to reduce congestion in the Grand Mosque.

Meanwhile, the Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdulaziz Al-Ashaikh has warned against doing the pilgrimage without the official Haj permit.

“It is haram (against Islam) to disobey the established rules of the government,” he wrote on his Twitter account.

Al-Ashaikh said ignoring regulations to enter Makkah and other holy sites  is a gross violation of the Islamic tenets. “Also it is totally against Islam to transport pilgrims to the holy sites without the official Haj permits,” he said.

 

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