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    Categories: Middle East

Hundreds Dead and Thousands Ill in 2017 Hajj in Saudi Arabia

The Kaaba, in Mecca, 1910

Hundreds died while thousands and thousands came down with a sickness that spread like an epidemic among the Islamic pilgrimage, aka Hajj, this year in Saudi Arabia. Yet, the mainstream media worldwide observed a blackout on the fatalities and sickness epidemic.

The annual Hajj rituals that came to an end a week ago in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, saw a reported participation of some 2 million pilgrims this year from all around the Muslim world. In mid to late August, as pilgrims got to Mecca, reports of acute illness started appearing in small, mostly local publications, despite the massive epidemic-like nature of the illness.

Here’s a brief summary of the reports of deaths and illness that made news in some online publications.

Vanguard reported on September 5th that 14 Nigerians had died by September 4 when the Hajj had concluded a few days ago. But the number of sick Nigerians stood at a terrifying 18000 patients! The local Saudi Health sources in charge of the treatment were cited saying the affected cases were of exhaustion, dehydration, and in some cases heart stroke because of scorching heat.

Dozens of Egyptian pilgrims fell dead in Saudi Arabia during 2017 Hajj. The numbers kept climbing each day until September 7 when Xinhua reported the death toll of Egyptian pilgrims has reached 67. The deaths of the latest two dead were attributed to “heart attacks and breathing failures.” The latest report from Egypt is a brief saying the number of deaths has reached 75. No cause or details are provided about the new cases of death.

The latest story about Hajj 2017 in Pakistan Today tells that at least 78 Pakistani pilgrims died this year in Saudi Arabia. The post cites Dunya News, a private TV channel, saying the deceased died of “natural causes.”

BDnews24 reported on August 23 that to date 23 Bangladeshi pilgrims had died in Saudi Arabia this year. No details were provided in the report.

Besides these numbers, local publications from other countries also have published about a few of their country’s pilgrims dying in Saudi Arabia while staying there for this year’s Hajj. In some of these stories, especially about the Nigerians, the mention of a sickness affecting thousands should have come as a cause of great attention over public health concerns; yet mainstream media across the world has assumed a complete and doubt-raising quiet over it.

It is worth mentioning that the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) continues to affect Saudis and visitors to the kingdom while also being exported out to other countries. Last month, authorities in Hong Kong reportedly detained two Saudi visitors who showed symptoms of MERS and were kept in hospital for treatment until the disappearance of their symptoms.

Ernest Dempsey: Ernest Dempsey is a writer, editor, blogger, and journalist based in Orlando, FL. He runs a popular blog Word Matters! at http://www.ernestdempsey.com/ and edits the journal and its blog Recovering the Self. Dempsey is a skeptic, vegetarian, and advocate for animal and human rights.