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Supkem wants Kenyan Hajj victims paid

By Ally Jamah | September 30th 2015
Supkem Chairman Abdulghafur El-Busaidy addresses the Press in Nairobi yesterday in the aftermath of the Mecca stampede in which more than 700 pilgrims died. Next to him is Supkem Director General Lattif Shaban. [PHOTO: EDWARD KIPLIMO/STANDARD]

NAIROBI: The Supreme Council of Kenyan Muslims (Supkem) now wants Saudi Arabia to compensate families of Kenyans affected in the Mina tragedy.

According to reports, six Kenyans have so far been confirmed dead in the stampede where over 700 people perished on September 24.

Supkem Chairman Abdulghafur El-Busaidy added that eight other Kenyans are still missing.

Supkem officials said Tuesday that although it was not yet clear what led to the stampede, the Saudi authorities should extend their hand of help to the affected families as a show of goodwill.

Prof El-Busaidy clarified that by calling for compensation, they were not blaming the Saudi government for the tragedy.

The Supkem chair said they were still awaiting the outcome of ongoing investigations by Saudi authorities and others to establish the root cause of the stampede.

“We will also be carrying out our own investigations when the Kenyan pilgrims return home. After that, we will compile a report with our recommendations to the Saudi government and others to minimise similar incidents in future,” he said.


He added: “So far, the Kenyans who passed away have been buried in Saudi Arabia by Saudi authorities after the families were informed in line with Islamic requirements.”

Supkem’s Religious Affairs Director Sheikh Muhammad Sheebwana said that the Saudi authorities have done a considerable amount of work in recent years to expand facilities to cater for an increasing number of pilgrims from all over the world.

He cited the case of Kenya where the number of pilgrims has increased steadily from 3,000 to the current 6,000 in the span of a few years due to high demand.

“If all safety precautions had been put in place by the Saudi authorities, we accept God’s will on this matter,” he said.

Muslims who are physically and financially able are required by Islam to travel to Mecca once in their lifetime to perform Hajj rituals.

Saudi officials have said that they are proceeding with investigations on what caused hundreds of pilgrims to get trampled on.

Among the possible causes include the rush by pilgrims to complete the rituals, extreme heat, worshipers pushing against each other in opposite directions, or even confusion among pilgrims who were in Mecca for the first time

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