Saudi Arabia’s top religious leader has said the authorities were not to blame for the deadly stampede at the Hajj pilgrimage.
The grand mufti reportedly said the tragedy in which more than 700 people died was beyond human control, and that fate and destiny were inevitable.
The comments came during a meeting in Mina with the Saudi interior minister, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef.
“You’re not responsible for what happened,” Sheikh Abdul Azia al-Sheikh told him, according to the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA).
Hundreds of thousands of Muslims have been preparing to leave the annual pilgrimage to Mecca after its worst disaster in a quarter of a century.
“I pray for those (stampede victims) to be martyrs, and we offer their families our condolences, and we want to tell their families that their death will not go in vain, this was Allah’s will,” said Siraj-Eddin Abdel Satttar, an Egyptian pilgrim.
The belief that the tragedy was fate is far from shared by all. There’s been fierce criticism of the Saudi authorities – especially from Iran.
On Friday thousands took to the streets of Tehran to condemn Saudi Arabia’s rulers.
Iran says many of its nationals were killed in the stampede and wants to be included in the investigation.