Bodies of pilgrims are seen in a Mina street after its devastating stampede on Sept. 24, which killed at least 100 Indonesians. (Reuters/Stringer)

Religious Affairs Minister Urges Indonesians to Obey Hajj Rules


SEPTEMBER 25, 2015

Jakarta. Religious Affairs Minister Lukman Hakim Saifuddin has reminded hajj pilgrims from Indonesia to strictly follow the rules laid out for them when performing their rituals -- after more than 700 people were crushed to death in Mina on Thursday.

Lukman particularly stressed the importance of sticking to the schedules for the “stoning-of-the-devil” ritual, called jamarat in Arabic, which involves pilgrims throwing small pebbles at three structures representing the devil, in Mina, over the course of three days.

Thursday's fatal stampede – coinciding with Islam's most important feast, Idul Adha – happened when two groups of pilgrims walking from and toward the jamarat pillars met in a lane between pilgrim camps, called Street 204.

Three Indonesians were among the dead and another one remained in critical condition, even though the lane was actually not even intended for use by Indonesian pilgrims, Lukman said.

It was not immediately clear how the Indonesians ended up on Street 204 at the time of the stampede.

“As the amirul hajj [leader of hajj pilgrims, for Indonesia], I call on Indonesian pilgrims to obey the [stoning] schedules, which for them are in the morning after dawn or in late afternoon, close to dusk,” Lukman said in Mina, according to a press statement published by the Cabinet Secretariat.

He said he had called on all leaders of Indonesian pilgrim groups, reminding them to stick to the schedules and keep a close eye on the members of their group.

“It is possible that [Indonesian pilgrims on Street 204] were lost or were caught in the crowd – they entered the wrong lane and weren't able to find their way out,” the minister said.

At least another 863 people were injured in the stampede, Reuters has reported.

Thursday's disaster was the worst to occur during the pilgrimage since July 1990, when 1,426 pilgrims suffocated in a tunnel near Mecca. Both incidents occurred on Idul Adha.