An Iraqi lawmaker Sunday called for a criminal lawsuit against Saudi Arabia in international criminal courts for its role in the deaths of hundreds of Muslim pilgrims in the holy city of Mecca.
Iraqi parliament member Sattar Ghanem said that many Muslim countries around the world had lost citizens in the stampede in the city of Mina, 4 miles from Mecca, which killed over 700 pilgrims Thursday, and called for serious action against Saudi Arabia, who he held responsible for the incident, Press TV reported.
However, Saudi authorities have deferred responsibility for the worst accident during the annual pilgrimage in a quarter century. The head of the country’s Shura council, which advises the government, blamed pilgrims for failing to respect rules and regulations. The country’s top Islamic cleric told the head of the hajj management committee Saturday: "As for the things that humans cannot control, you are not blamed for them. Fate and destiny are inevitable."
Ghanem accused Riyadh of trying to sow dissent among Islamic countries and said that the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), a bloc of 57 Islamic states, would be better suited for managing the hajj pilgrimage.
The head of the Baghdad police crimes unit, Ismail Hamid Zair, was among those who were killed in the stampede, officials said Sunday.
The incident drew heavy condemnation from Saudi Arabia’s regional rival Iran, which urged Riyadh to “take responsibility” for the deaths caused by its “incompetence.” Iranian President Hassan Rouhani also called for an investigation at a United Nations speech Saturday.
The stampede came shortly after a crane collapsed earlier this month, killing 107 people, at another major Islamic holy site, the Grand Mosque in Mecca. The incident prompted the suspension of construction giant Saudi Binladin Group, which belongs to the family of the late al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.