The South African Haj and Umrah Council (Sahuc) has attempted to allay fears of families at home, worried about the safety of umrah pilgrims in Madinah after Monday evening’s bomb blast. As Muslims around the world observed the 29th Taraweeh prayers, mussallies in the Haram of Madinah were startled by a loud blast. While speculation about the source of the blast is rife, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has confirmed the blast to be the result of a suicide attack. The blast occurred in a parking lot outside the Haram, killing four police officers and injuring five others.
Speaking to VOC on Tuesday morning, Sahuc president, Shaheen Essop confirmed that no mu’tamireen and particularly no South Africans were killed or injured. While emotions remain high in light of mixed reports, everyone continued with Taraweeh prayers inside the masjid.
“No mu’tamireen, specifically no South Africans were injured,” he stated.
Following the horrific 2015 crane accident and the Mina stampede, Essop says that there is growing concern amongst family members of mu’tamireen. He says that while the safety and sanctity of the precinct acts as a protection for mu’tamireen, Monday’s bombings in Madinah, Qatif, and Jeddah has increased security concerns around the Haramayn.
Essop adds that more stringent security processors have been evident in the kingdom in the last few years.
“It obviously poses a problem as far as the security of the mu’tamireen and Hujjaaj are concerned. Together with the authorities in the kingdom and with our foreign diplomats, we would work toward a contingent plan and an emergency structure that we can put in place in the event that this type of calamity happens in the future,” Essop continued.
Essop further noted that with the upcoming hajj season he anticipates that individuals, while not deterred from performing hajj, will be more security conscious.